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0/ Dr. A 


*% t 

rCETON, N. J. ^f 

. «^. Hodge. Presented. 










110 Washington Street. 

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1849, 


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Massachusetts. 


No. 2 Water Street. 


I. — Uses op Great Men, 9 

IE. — Plato ; or, the Philosopher, ....... 43 

Plato: New Readings, 82 

hi. — swedenborg ; or, the mystic, 95 

IV. — Montaigne ; or, the Skeptic, 149 

V. — Shakspeare ; or, the Poet, 187 

VI. — Napoleon ; or, the Man op the World, . . .219 
VIL — Goethe ; or, the Writer, 257 



It is natural to believe in great men. If the 
companions of our childhood should turn out to 
be heroes, and their condition regal, it would not 
surprise us. All mythology opens with demigods, 
and the circumstance is high and poetic ; that is, 
their genius is paramount. In the legends of the 
Gautama, the first men ate the earth, and found 
it deliciously sweet. 

Nature seems to exist for the excellent. The 
world is upheld by the veracity of good men : 
they make the earth wholesome. Thefy who 
lived with them found life glad and nutritious. 
Life is sweet and tolerable only in our belief in such 
society; and actually, or ideally, we manage to 
live with superiors. We call our children and 
our lands by their names. Their names are 
wrought into the verbs of language, their works 
and effigies are in our houses, and every cir- 


cumstance of the day recalls an anecdote of 

The search after the great is the dream of 
youth, and the most serious occupation of man- 
hood. We travel into foreign parts to find his 
works, — if possible, to get a glimpse of him. 
But we are put off with fortune instead. You 
say, the English are practical ; the Germans are 
hospitable j in Valencia, the climate is delicious ; 
and in the hills of the Sacramento, there is gold 
for the gathering. Yes, but I do not travel to find 
comfortable, rich, and hospitable people, or clear 
sky, or ingots that cost too much. But if there were 
any magnet that would point to the countries 
and houses where are the persons who are in- 
trinsically rich and powerful, I would sell all, and 
buy it, and put myself on the road to-day. 

The race goes with us on their credit. The 
knowledge, that in the city is a man who invented 
the railroad, raises the credit of all the citizens. 
But enormous populations, if they be beggars, 
are disgusting, like moving cheese, like hills of 
ants, or of fleas — the more, the worse. 

Our religion is the love and cherishing of these 
patrons. The gods of fable are the shining 
moments of great men. We run all our ves- 
sels into one mould. Our colossal theologies 
of Judaism, Christism, Buddhism, Mahometism, 


are the necessary and structural action of the 
human mind. The student of history is like a 
man going into a warehouse to buy cloths or 
carpets. He fancies he has a new article. If he go 
to the factory, he shall find that his new stuff 
still repeats the scrolls and rosettes which are found 
on the interior walls of the pyramids of Thebes. 
Our theism is the purification of the human mind. 
Man can paint, or make, or think nothing but 
man. He believes that the great material elements 
had their origin from his thought. And our 
philosophy finds one essence collected or distrib- 

If now we proceed to inquire into the kinds 
of service we derive from others, let us be warned 
of the danger of modern studies, and begin low 
enough. We must not contend against love, or 
deny the substantial existence of other people. I 
know not what would happen to us. We have 
social strengths. Our affection towards others 
creates a sort of vantage or purchase which noth- 
ing will supply. I can do that by another which 
I cannot do alone. I can say to you what I can- 
not first say to myself. Other men are lenses 
through which we read our own minds. Each 
man seeks those of different quality from his 
own, and such as are good of their kind ; that is, 


he seeks other men, and the otherest. The stronger 
the nature, the more it is reactive. Let us have 
the quality pure. A little genius let us leave 
alone. A main difference betwixt men is, whether 
they attend their own affair or not. Man is that 
noble endogenous plant which grows, like the 
palm, from within, outward. His own affair, 
though impossible to others, he can open with 
celerity and in sport. It is easy to sugar to be 
sweet, and to nitre to be salt. We take a great 
deal of pains to waylay and entrap that which of 
itself will fall into our hands. I count him a 
great man who inhabits a higher sphere of thought, 
into which other men rise with labor and difficul- 
ty ; he has but to open his eyes to see things in 
a true light, and in large relations j whilst they 
must make painful corrections, and keep a vigilant 
eye on many sources of error. His service to us 
is of like sort. It costs a beautiful person no 
exertion to paint her image on our eyes ; yet 
how splendid is that benefit ! It costs no more 
for a wise soul to convey his quality to other 
men. And every one can do his best thing 
easiest. " Peu de moyens, beaucoup cPeffet" 
He is great who is what he is from nature, and 
who never reminds us of others. 

But he must be related to us, and our life receive 
from him some promise of explanation. I cannot 


tell what I would know j but I have observed there 
are persons who, in their character and actions, 
answer questions which I have not skill to put. 
One man answers some question which none of his 
contemporaries put, and is isolated. The past and 
passing religions and philosophies answer some 
other question. Certain men affect us as rich 
possibilities, but helpless to themselves and to 
their times, — the sport, perhaps, of some instinct 
that rules in the air j — they do not speak to 
our want. But the great are near; we know 
them at sight. They satisfy expectation, and 
fall into place, What is good is effective, gen- 
erative j makes for itself room, food, and allies. 
A sound apple produces seed, — a hybrid does 
not. Is a man in his place, he is constructive, 
fertile, magnetic, inundating armies with his pur- 
pose, which is thus executed. The river makes 
its own shores, and each legitimate idea makes its 
own channels and welcome, — harvests for food, 
institutions for expression, weapons to fight with, 
and disciples to explain it. The true artist has 
the planet for his pedestal ; the adventurer, after 
years of strife, has nothing broader than his own 

Our common discourse respects two kinds of 
use or service from superior men. Direct giving 
is agreeable to the early belief of men j direct 



giving of material or metaphysical aid, as of 
health, eternal youth, fine senses, arts of healing, 
magical power, and prophecy. The boy believes 
there is a teacher who can sell him wisdom. 
Churches believe in imputed merit. But, in strict- 
ness, we are not much cognizant of direct serving. 
Man is endogenous, and education is his unfold- 
ing. The aid we have from others is mechanical, 
compared with the discoveries of nature in us. 
What is thus learned is delightful in the doing, 
and the effect remains. Right ethics are central, 
and go from the soul outward. Gift is contrary 
to the law of the universe. Serving others is 
serving us. I must absolve me to myself. ' Mind 
thy affair,' says the spirit : — l coxcomb, would 
you meddle with the skies, or with other people ? ' 
Indirect service is left. Men have a pictorial or 
representative quality, and serve us in the intel- 
lect. Behmen and Swedenborg saw that things 
were representative. Men are also representative ; 
first, of things, and secondly, of ideas. 

As plants convert the minerals into food for 
animals, so each man converts some raw material 
in nature to human use. The inventors of fire, 
electricity, magnetism, iron, lead, glass, linen, silk, 
cotton ; the makers of tools ; the inventor of deci- 
mal notation ; the geometer ; the engineer ; the 
severally make an easy way for 


all, through unknown and impossible confusions. 
Each man is, by secret liking, connected with some 
district of nature, whose agent and interpreter he 
is, as Linnaeus, of plants ; Huber, of bees ; Fries, 
of lichens ; Van Mons, of pears ; Dalton, of atomic 
forms ; Euclid, of lines ; Newton, of fluxions. 

A man is a centre for nature, running out 
threads of relation through every thing, fluid and 
solid, material and elemental. The earth rolls ; 
every clod and stone comes to the meridian : so 
every organ, function, acid, crystal, grain of dust, 
has its relation to the brain. It waits long, but 
its turn comes. Each plant has its parasite, and 
each created thing its lover and poet. Justice has 
already been done to steam, to iron, to wood, to 
coal, to loadstone, to iodine, to corn, and cotton ; 
but how few materials are yet used by our arts ! 
The mass of creatures and of qualities are still 
hid and expectant. It would seem as if each 
waited, like the enchanted princess in fairy tales, 
for a destined human deliverer. Each must be 
disenchanted, and walk forth to the day in 
human shape. In the history of discovery, the 
ripe and latent truth seems to have fashioned a 
brain for itself. A magnet must be made man, 
in some Gilbert, or Swedenborg, or Oersted, be- 
fore the general mind can come to entertain its 


If we limit ourselves to the first advantages; — 
a sober grace adheres to the mineral and botanic 
kingdoms, which, in the highest moments, comes 
up as the charm of nature, — the glitter of the 
spar, the sureness of affinity, the veracity of 
angles. Light and darkness, heat and cold, hun- 
ger and food, sweet and sour, solid, liquid, and 
gas, circle us round in a wreath of pleasures, and, 
by their agreeable quarrel, beguile the day of life. 
The eye repeats every day the first eulogy on 
things — "He saw that they were good." We 
know where to find them j and these performers 
are relished all the more, after a little experience 
of the pretending races. We are entitled, also, 
to higher advantages. Something is wanting to 
science, until it has been humanized. The table 
of logarithms is one thing, and its vital play, in 
botany, music, optics, and architecture, another. 
There are advancements to numbers, anatomy, 
architecture, astronomy, little suspected at first, 
when, by union with intellect and will, they as- 
cend into the life, and reappear in conversation, 
character, and politics. 

But this comes later. We speak now only of 
our acquaintance with them in their own sphere, 
and the way in which they seem to fascinate and 
draw to them some genius who occupies himself 
with one thing, all his life long. The possibility 


of interpretation lies in the identity of the 
observer with the observed. Each material thing 
has its celestial side ; has its translation, through 
humanity, into the spiritual and necessary sphere, 
where it plays a part as indestructible as any 
other. And to these, their ends, all things con- 
tinually ascend. The gases gather to the solid 
firmament : the chemic lump arrives at the plant, 
and grows ; arrives at the quadruped, and walks ; 
arrives at the man, and thinks. But also the 
constituency determines the vote of the repre- 
sentative. He is not only representative, but 
participant. Like can only be known by like. 
The reason why he knows about them is, that 
he is of them ; he has just come out of 
nature, or from being a part of that thing. An- 
imated chlorine knows of chlorine, and incarnate 
zinc, of zinc. Their quality makes his career ; 
and he can variously publish their virtues, because 
they compose him. Man, made of the dust of 
the world, does not forget his origin j and all that 
is yet inanimate will one day speak and reason. 
Unpublished nature will have its whole secret 
told. Shall we say that quartz mountains will 
pulverize into innumerable Werners, Yon Buchs, 
and Beaumonts ; and the laboratory of the atmos- 
phere holds in solution I know not what Ber- 
zeliuses and Davys ? 




Thus, we sit by the fire, and take hold on the 
poles of the earth. This quasi omnipresence 
supplies the imbecility of our condition. In one 
of those celestial days, when heaven and earth 
meet and adorn each other, it seems a poverty 
that we can only spend it once : we wish for a 
thousand heads, a thousand bodies, that we might 
celebrate its immense beauty in many ways and 
places. Is this fancy ? Well, in good faith, we 
are multiplied by our proxies. How easily we 
adopt their labors ! Every ship that comes to 
America got its chart from Columbus. Every 
novel is a debtor to Homer. Every carpenter 
who shaves with a foreplane borrows the genius 
of a forgotten inventor. Life is girt all round with 
a zodiac of sciences, the contributions of men who 
have perished to add their point of light to our 
sky. Engineer, broker, jurist, physician, moral- 
ist, theologian, and every man, inasmuch as he has 
any science, is a de finer and map-maker of the 
latitudes and longitudes of our condition. These 
road-makers on every hand enrich us. We must 
extend the area of life, and multiply our relations. 
We are as much gainers by finding a new property 
in the old earth, as by acquiring a new planet. 

We are too passive in the reception of these 
material or semi-material aids. We must not be 
sacks and stomachs. To ascend one step, — we are 


better served through our sympathy. Activity is 
contagious. Looking where others look, and 
conversing with the same things, we catch the 
charm which lured them. Napoleon said, " You 
must not fight too often with one enemy, or you 
will teach him all your art of war." Talk much 
with any man of vigorous mind, and we acquire 
very fast the habit of looking at things in the 
same light, and, on each occurrence, we anticipate 
his thought. 

Men are helpful through the intellect and the 
affections. Other help, I find a false appearance. 
If you affect to give me bread and fire, I perceive 
that I pay for it the full price, and at last it leaves 
me as it found me, neither better nor worse : but 
all mental and moral force is a positive good. It 
goes out from you, whether you will or not, and 
profits me whom you never thought of. I cannot 
even hear of personal vigor of any kind, great 
power of performance, without fresh resolution. 
We are emulous of all that man can do. Cecil's 
saying of Sir Walter Raleigh, " I know that he 
can toil terribly," is an electric touch. So are 
Clarendon's portraits, — of Hampden ; " who was 
of an industry and vigilance not to be tired out 
or wearied by the most laborious, and of parts not 
to be imposed on by the most subtle and sharp, 
and of a personal courage equal to his best parts,"— - 


of Falkland ; " who was so severe an adorer of 
truth, that he could as easily have given himself 
leave to steal, as to dissemble." "We cannot read 
Plutarch, without a tingling of the blood ; and I 
accept the saying of the Chinese Mencius : " A 
sage is the instructer of a hundred ages. When 
the manners of Loo are heard of, the stupid become 
intelligent, and the wavering, determined." 

This is the moral of biography ; yet it is hard 
for departed men to touch the quick like our own 
companions, whose names may not last as long. 
What is he whom I never think of? whilst in 
every solitude are those who succor our genius, 
and stimulate us in wonderful manners. There 
is a power in love to divine another's destiny bet- 
ter than that other can, and, by heroic encour- 
agements, hold him to his task. What has friend- 
ship so signal as its sublime attraction to whatever 
virtue is in us? We will never more think 
cheaply of ourselves, or of life. We are piqued 
to some purpose, and the industry of the diggers 
on the railroad will not again shame us. 

Under this head, too, falls that homage, very 
pure, as I think, which all ranks pay to the hero 
of the day, from Coriolanus and Gracchus, down 
to Pitt, Lafayette, Wellington, Webster, Lamar- 
tine. Hear the shouts in the street ! The people 
cannot see him enough. They delight in a man. 


Here is a head and a trunk ! What a front ! 
what eyes ! Atlantean shoulders, and the whole 
carriage heroic, with equal inward force to guide 
the great machine ! This pleasure of full expres- 
sion to that which, in their private experience, is 
usually cramped and obstructed, runs, also, much 
higher, and is the secret of the reader's joy in lit- 
erary genius. Nothing is kept back. There is 
fire enough to fuse the mountain of ore. Shak- 
speare's principal merit may be conveyed, in say- 
ing that he, of all men, best understands the 
English language, and can say what he will. 
Yet these unchoked channels and floodgates of 
expression are only health or fortunate constitu- 
tion. Shakspeare's name suggests other and 
purely intellectual benefits. 

Senates and sovereigns have no compliment, 
with their medals, swords, and armorial coats, like 
the addressing to a human being thoughts out of 
a certain height, and presupposing his intelligence. 
This honor, which is possible in personal inter- 
course scarcely twice in a lifetime, genius perpet- 
ually pays ; contented, if now and then, in a cen- 
tury, the proffer is accepted. The indicators of 
the values of matter are degraded to a sort of 
cooks and confectioners, on the appearance of the 
indicators of ideas. Genius is the naturalist or 
geographer of the supersensible regions, and 


draws their map ; and, by acquainting us with 
new fields of activity, cools our affection for the 
old. These are at once accepted as the reality, 
of which the world we have conversed with is 
the show. 

We go to the gymnasium and the swimming- 
school to see the power and beauty of the body ; 
there is the like pleasure, and a higher benefit, 
from witnessing intellectual feats of all kinds ; as, 
feats of memory, of mathematical combination, 
great power of abstraction, the transmutings of 
the imagination, even versatility, and concentra- 
tion, as these acts expose the invisible organs and 
members of the mind, which respond, member 
for member, to the parts of the body. For, we 
thus enter a new gymnasium, and learn to choose 
men by their truest marks, taught, with Plato, 
"to choose those who can, without aid from the 
eyes, or any other sense, proceed to truth and to 
being." Foremost among these activities, are the 
summersaults, spells, and resurrections, wrought 
by the imagination. When this wakes, a man 
seems to multiply ten times or a thousand times 
his force. It opens the delicious sense of indeter- 
minate size, and inspires an audacious mental 
habit. We are as elastic as the gas of gunpow- 
der, and a sentence in a book,, or a word dropped 
in conversation, sets free our fancy, and instantly 


our heads are bathed Avith galaxies, and our feet 
tread the floor of the Pit. And this benefit is 
real, because we are entitled to these enlargements, 
and, once having passed the bounds, shall never 
again be quite the miserable pedants we were. 

The high functions of the intellect are so allied, 
that some imaginative power usually appears in 
all eminent minds, even in arithmeticians of the 
first class, but especially in meditative men of an 
intuitive habit of thought. This class serve us, 
so that they have the perception of identity and 
the perception of reaction. The eyes of Plato, 
Shakspeare, Swedenborg, Goethe, never shut on 
either of these laws. The perception of these 
laws is a kind of metre of the mind. Little minds 
are little, through failure to see them. 

Even these feasts have their surfeit. Our de- 
light in reason degenerates into idolatry of the 
herald. Especially when a mind of powerful 
method has instructed men, we find the examples 
of oppression. The dominion of Aristotle, the 
Ptolemaic astronomy, the credit of Luther, of 
Bacon, of Locke, — in religion, the history of 
hierarchies, of saints, and the sects which have 
taken the name of each founder, are in point. 
Alas ! every man is such a victim. The imbecil- 
ity of men is always inviting the impudence of 
power. It is the delight of vulgar talent to daz- 


zle and to bind the beholder. But true genius 
seeks to defend us from itself. True genius will 
not impoverish, but will liberate, and add new 
senses. If a wise man should appear in our vil- 
lage, he would create, in those who conversed 
with him, a new consciousness of wealth, by 
opening their eyes to unobserved advantages ; he 
would establish a sense of immovable equality, 
calm us with assurances that we could not be 
cheated ; as every one would discern the checks 
and guaranties of condition. The rich would 
see their mistakes and poverty, the poor their 
escapes and their resources. 

But nature brings all this about in due time. 
Rotation is her remedy. The soul is impatient 
of masters, and eager for change. Housekeepers 
say of a domestic who has been valuable, " She 
had lived with me long enough." We are ten- 
dencies, or rather, symptoms, and none of us com- 
plete. We touch and go, and sip the foam of 
many lives. Rotation is the law of nature. 
When nature removes a great man, people explore 
the horizon for a successor ; but none comes, and 
none will. His class is extinguished with him. 
In some other and quite different field, the next 
man will appear ; not Jefferson, not Franklin, but 
now a great salesman j then a road-contractor ; 
then a student of fishes ; then a buffalo-hunting 


explorer, or a semi-savage western general. Thus 
we make a stand against our rougher masters ; but 
against the best there is a finer remedy. The 
power which they communicate is not theirs. 
When we are exalted by ideas, we do not owe 
this to Plato, but to the idea, to which, also, Plato 
was debtor. 

I must not forget that we have a special debt 
to a single class. Life is a scale of degrees. 
Between rank and rank of our great men are 
wide intervals. Mankind have, in all ages, attached 
themselves to a few persons, who, either by the 
quality of that idea they embodied, or by the large- 
ness of their reception, were entitled to the posi- 
tion of leaders and law-givers. These teach us the 
qualities of primary nature, — admit us to the con- 
stitution of things. We swim, day by day, on a 
river of delusions, and are effectually amused with 
houses and towns in the air, of which the men 
about us are dupes. But life is a sincerity. In 
lucid intervals we say, ' Let there be an entrance 
opened for me into realities ; I have worn the fool's 
cap too long.' We will know the meaning of our 
economies and politics. Give us the cipher, and, 
if persons and things are scores of a celestial music, 
let us read off the strains. We have been cheated 
of our reason ; yet there have been sane men, who 
enjoyed a rich and related existence. What they 


know, they know for us. With each new mind, 
a new secret of nature transpires ; nor can the 
Bible be closed, until the last great man is born. 
These men correct the delirium of the animal 
spirits, make us considerate, and engage us to 
new aims and. powers. The veneration of man- 
kind selects these for the highest place. Witness 
the multitude of statues, pictures, and memorials 
which recall their genius in every city, village, 
house, and ship : — 

" Ever their phantoms arise Defore us, 
Our loftier brothers, but one in blood ; 
At bed and table they lord it o'er us, 
With looks of beauty, and words of good." 

How to illustrate the distinctive benefit of ideas, 
the service rendered by those who introduce moral 
truths into the general mind ? — I am plagued, 
in all my living, with a perpetual tariff of prices. 
If I work in my garden, and prime an apple-tree, 
I am well enough entertained, and could continue 
indefinitely in the like occupation. But it comes 
to mind that a day is gone, and I have got 
this precious nothing done. I go to Boston or 
New York, and run up and down on my affairs : 
they are sped, but so is the day. I am vexed 
by the recollection of this price I have paid for a 
trifling advantage. I remember the peau d'ane, 


on which whoso sat should have his desire, but 
a piece of the skin was gone for every wish. I 
go to a convention of philanthropists. Do what I 
can, I cannot keep my eyes off the clock. But 
if there should appear in the company some gentle 
soul who knows little of persons or parties, of 
Carolina or Cuba, but who announces a law that 
disposes these particulars, and so certifies me of 
the equity which checkmates every false player, 
bankrupts every self-seeker, and apprises me of 
my independence on any conditions of country, 
or time, or human body, that man liberates me ; I 
forget the clock. I pass out of the sore relation 
to persons. I am healed of my hurts. I am 
made immortal by apprehending my possession 
of incorruptible goods. Here is great competi- 
tion of rich and poor. We live in a market, 
where is only so much wheat, or wool, or land ; 
and if I have so much more, every other must 
have so much less. I seem to have no good, 
without breach of good manners. Nobody is glad 
in the gladness of another, and our system is one 
of war, of an injurious superiority. Every child 
of the Saxon race is educated to wish to be first. 
It is our system ; and a man comes to measure his 
greatness by the regrets, envies, and hatreds of his 
competitors. But in these new fields there is 
room : here are no self-esteems, no exclusions. 


I admire great men of all classes, those who 
stand for facts, and for thoughts ; I like rough 
and smooth, " Scourges of God," and " Darlings 
of the human race." I like the first Csesar ; and 
Charles Y., of Spain ; and Charles XII., of Swe- 
den ; Richard Plantagenet ; and Bonaparte, in 
France. I applaud a sufficient man, an officer 
equal to his office ; captains, ministers, senators. 
I like a master standing firm on legs of iron, well- 
born, rich, handsome, eloquent, loaded with 
advantages, drawing all men by fascination into 
tributaries and supporters of his power. Sword 
and staff, or talents sword-like or staff-like, carry- 
on the work of the world. But I find him greater, 
when he can abolish himself, and all heroes, by 
letting in this element of reason, irrespective of 
persons ; this subtiliser, and irresistible upward 
force, into our thought, destroying individualism ; 
the power so great, that the potentate is nothing. 
Then he is a monarch, who gives a constitution 
to his people ; a pontiff, who preaches the equality 
of souls, and releases his servants from their bar- 
barous homages ; an emperor, who can spare his 

But I intended to specify, with a little minute- 
ness, two or three points of service. Nature 
never spares the opium or nepenthe ; but, wher- 


ever she mars her creature with some deformity 
or defect, lays her poppies plentifully on the 
bruise, and the sufferer goes joyfully through life, 
ignorant of the ruin, and incapable of seeing it, 
though all the world point their finger at it 
every day. The worthless and offensive mem- 
bers of society, whose existence is a social pest, 
invariably think themselves the most ill-used 
people alive, and never get over their astonish- 
ment at the ingratitude and selfishness of their 
contemporaries. Our globe discovers its hidden 
virtues, not only in heroes and archangels, but in 
gossips and nurses. Is it not a rare contrivance 
that lodged the due inertia in every creature, the 
conserving, resisting energy, the anger at being 
waked or changed? Altogether independent of 
the intellectual force in each, is the pride of 
opinion, the security that we are right. Not the 
feeblest grandame, not a mowing idiot, but uses 
what spark of perception and faculty is left, to 
chuckle and triumph in his or her opinion over 
the absurdities of all the rest. Difference from 
me is the measure of absurdity. Not one has a 
misgiving of being wrong. Was it not a bright 
thought that made things cohere with this bitu- 
men, fastest of cements ? But, in the midst of 
this chuckle of self-gratulation, some figure goes 
by, which Thersites too can love and admire. 


This is he that should marshal us the way we 
were going. There is no end to his aid. With- 
out Plato, we should almost lose our faith in the 
possibility of a reasonable book. We seem 
to want but one, but we want one. We love to 
associate with heroic persons, since our receptivity 
is unlimited j and, with the great, our thoughts 
and manners easily become great. We are all 
wise in capacity, though so few in energy. There 
needs but one wise man in a company, and all are 
wise, so rapid is the contagion. 

Great men are thus a collyrium to clear our 
eyes from egotism, and enable us to see other 
people and their works. But there are vices and 
follies incident to whole populations and ages. 
Men resemble their contemporaries, even more 
than their progenitors. It is observed in old 
couples, or in persons who have been housemates 
for a course of years, that they grow alike ; and, 
if they should live long enough, we should not 
be able to know them apart. Nature abhors these 
complaisances, which threaten to melt the world 
into a lump, and hastens to break up such maud- 
lin agglutinations. The like assimilation goes on 
between men of one town, of one sect, of one 
political party ; and the ideas of the time are in 
the air, and infect all who breathe it. Viewed 
from any high point, this city of New York, 


yonder city of London, the western civilization, 
would seem a bundle of insanities. We keep 
each other in countenance, and exasperate by 
emulation the frenzy of the time. The shield 
against the stingings of conscience, is the univer- 
sal practice, or our contemporaries. Again ; it is 
very easy to be as wise and good as your com- 
panions. We learn of our contemporaries what 
they know, without efTort, and almost through 
the pores of the skin. We catch it by sympathy, 
or, as a wife arrives at the intellectual and moral 
elevations of her husband. But we stop where 
they stop. Yery hardly can we take another 
step. The great, or such as hold of nature, and 
transcend fashions, by their fidelity to universal 
ideas, are saviors from these federal errors, and 
defend us from our contemporaries. They are 
the exceptions which we want, where all grows 
alike. A foreign greatness is the antidote for 

Thus we feed on genius, and refresh ourselves 
from too much conversation with our mates, and 
exult in the depth of nature in that direction in 
which he leads us. What indemnification is one 
great man for populations of pigmies ! Every 
mother wishes one son a genius, though all the 
rest should be mediocre. But a new danger ap- 
pears in the excess of influence of the great man. 


His attractions warp us from our place. We have 
become underlings and intellectual suicides. Ah ! 
yonder in the horizon is our help : — other great 
men, new qualities, counterweights and checks on 
each other. We cloy of the honey of each pe- 
culiar greatness. Every hero becomes a bore at 
last. Perhaps Voltaire was not bad-hearted, yet 
he said of the good Jesus, even, " I pray you, let 
me never hear that man's name again." They 
cry up the virtues of George Washington, — 
" Damn George Washington ! " is the poor Jaco- 
bin's whole speech and confutation. But it is 
human nature's indispensable defence. The cen- 
tripetence augments the centrifugence. We bal- 
ance one man with his opposite, and the health 
of the state depends on the see-saw. 

There is, however, a speedy limit to the use 
of heroes. Every genius is defended from ap- 
proach by quantities of unavailableness. They 
are very attractive, and seem at a distance our 
own : but we are hindered on all sides from 
approach. The more we are drawn, the more 
we are repelled. There is something not solid 
in the good that is done for us. The best 
discovery the discoverer makes for himself. 
It has something unreal for his companion, 
until he too has substantiated it. It seems as 
if the Deity dressed each soul which he sends 


into nature in certain virtues and powers not 
communicable to other men, and, sending it to 
perform one more turn through the circle of 
beings, wrote " Not transferable" and " Good 
for this trip only" on these garments of the 
soul. There is somewhat deceptive about the 
intercourse of minds. The boundaries are 
invisible, but they are never crossed. There 
is such good will to impart, and such good 
will to receive, that each threatens to become 
the other ; but the law of individuality col- 
lects its secret strength : you are you, and I 
am I, and so we remain. 

For nature wishes every thing to remain 
itself; and, whilst every individual strives to 
grow and exclude, and to exclude and grow, 
to the extremities of the universe, and to 
impose the law of its being on every other 
creature, Nature steadily aims to protect each 
against every other. Each is self-defended. 
Nothing is more marked than the power by 
which individuals are guarded from individuals, 
in a world where every benefactor becomes so 
easily a malefactor, only by continuation of his 
activity into places where it is not due ; where 
children seem so much at the mercy of their 
foolish parents, and where almost all men are 
too social and interfering. We rightly speak 


of the guardian angels of children, How 
superior in their security from infusions of 
evil persons, from vulgarity and second thought ! 
They shed their own abundant beauty on the 
objects they behold. Therefore, they are not 
at the mercy of such poor educators as we 
adults. If we huff and chide them, they soon 
come not to mind it, and get a self-reliance ; 
and if we indulge them to folly, they learn 
the limitation elsewhere. 

We need not fear excessive influence. A 
more generous trust is permitted. Serve the 
great. Stick at no humiliation. Grudge no 
office thou canst render. Be the limb of their 
body, the breath of their mouth. Compromise 
thy egotism. Who cares for that, so thou 
gain aught wider and nobler ? Never mind 
the taunt of Boswellism : the devotion may 
easily be greater than the wretched pride 
which is guarding its own skirts. Be another : 
not thyself, but a Platonist ; not a soul, but a 
Christian ; not a naturalist, but a Cartesian ; 
not a poet, but a Shaksperian. In vain, the 
wheels of tendency will not stop, nor will all 
the forces of inertia, fear, or of love itself, 
hold thee there. On, and forever onward ! 
The microscope observes a monad or wheel- 
insect among the infusories circulating in water. 


Presently, a dot appears on the animal, which 
enlarges to a slit, and it becomes two perfect 
animals. The ever-proceeding detachment ap- 
pears not less in all thought, and in society. 
Children think they cannot live without their 
parents. But, long before they are aware of 
it, the black dot has appeared, and the detach- 
ment taken place. Any accident will now 
reveal to them their independence. 

But great men : — the word is injurious. Is 
there caste ? is there fate ? What becomes of 
the promise to virtue ? The thoughtful youth 
laments the superfoetation of nature. ' Gener- 
ous and handsome,' he says, 'is your hero; but 
look at yonder poor Paddy, whose country is 
his wheelbarrow; look at his whole nation of 
Paddies.' Why are the masses, from the dawn 
of history down, food for knives and powder? 
The idea dignifies a few leaders, who have 
sentiment, opinion, love, self-devotion ; and they 
make war and death sacred ; — but what for 
the wretches whom they hire and kill ? The 
cheapness of man is every day's tragedy. It 
is as real a loss that others should be low, 
as that we should be low ; for we must have 

Is it a reply to these suggestions, to say, 


society is a Pestalozzian school : all are teach- 
ers and pupils in turn. We are equally served 
by receiving and by imparting. Men who 
know the same things, are not long the best 
company for each other. But bring to each 
an intelligent person of another experience, 
and it is as if you let off water from a lake, 
by cutting a lower basin. It seems a mechani- 
cal advantage, and great benefit it is to each 
speaker, as he can now paint out his thought 
to himself. We pass very fast, in our personal 
moods, from dignity to dependence. And if 
any appear never to assume the chair, but 
always to stand and serve, it is because we 
do not see the company in a sufficiently long 
period for the whole rotation of parts to come 
about. As to what we call the masses, and 
common men ; — there are no common men. 
All men are at last of a size ; and true art is 
only possible, on the conviction that every 
talent has its apotheosis somewhere. Fair play, 
and an open field, and freshest laurels to all 
who have won them ! But heaven reserves an 
equal scope for every creature. Each is uneasy 
until he has produced his private ray unto 
the concave sphere, and beheld his talent 
also in its last nobility and exaltation. 

The heroes of the hour are relatively great : 


of a faster growth ; or they are such, in whom, 
at the moment of success, a quality is ripe 
which is then in request. Other days will 
demand other qualities. Some rays escape the 
common observer, and want a finely adapted 
eye. Ask the great man if there be none 
greater. His companions are ; and not the 
iess great, but the more, that society cannot 
see them. Nature never sends a great man 
mto the planet, without confiding the secret 
to another soul. 

One gracious fact emerges from these studies, — 
that there is true ascension in our love. The 
reputations of the nineteenth century will one 
day be quoted, to prove its barbarism. The 
genius of humanity is the real subject whose 
biography is written in our annals. We must 
infer much, and supply many chasms in the 
record. The history of the universe is sympto- 
matic, and life is mnemonical. No man, in all 
the procession of famous men, is reason or illumi- 
nation, or that essence we were looking for ; but 
is an exhibition, in some quarter, of new possibili- 
ties. Could we one day complete the immense 
figure which these flagrant points compose ! The 
study of many individuals leads us to an elemen- 
tal region wherein the individual is lost, or 
wherein all touch by their summits. Thought 


and feeling, that break out there, cannot be im- 
pounded by any fence of personality. This is the 
key to the power of the greatest men, — their spirit 
diffuses itself. A new quality of mind travels by 
night and by day, in concentric circles from its 
origin, and publishes itself by unknown methods : 
the union of all minds appears intimate : what 
gets admission to one, cannot be kept out of any 
other : the smallest acquisition of truth or of 
energy, in any quarter, is so much good to the 
commonwealth of souls. If the disparities of 
talent and position vanish, when the individuals 
are seen in the duration which is necessary to 
complete the career of each ; even more swiftly 
the seeming injustice disappears, when we ascend 
to the central identity of all the individuals, and 
know that they are made of the substance which 
ordaineth and doeth. 

The genius of humanity is the right point of 
view of history. The qualities abide ; the men 
who exhibit them have now more, now less, and 
pass away ; the qualities remain on another bro vv. 
No experience is more familiar. Once you saw 
phoenixes : they are gone ; the world is not there^ 
fore disenchanted. The vessels on which you 
read sacred emblems turn out to be common pot- 
tery ; but the sense of the pictures is sacred, and 
you may still read them transferred to the waBs 


of the world. For a time, our teachers serve us 
personally, as metres or milestones of progress. 
Once they were angels of knowledge, and their 
figures touched the sky. Then we drew near, 
saw their means, culture, and limits ; and they 
yielded their place to other geniuses. Happy, if 
a few names remain so high, that we have not 
been able to read them nearer, and age and com- 
parison have not robbed them of a ray. But, at 
last, we shall cease to look in men for complete- 
ness, and shall content ourselves with their social 
and delegated quality. All that respects the 
individual is temporary and prospective, like the 
individual himself, who is ascending out of his 
limits, into a catholic existence. We have never 
come at the true and best benefit of any genius, 
so long as we believe him an original force. In 
the moment when he ceases to help us as a cause, 
he begins to help us more as an effect. Then he 
appears as an exponent of a vaster mind and will. 
The opaque self becomes transparent with the light 
of the First Cause. 

Yet, within the limits of human education and 
agency, we may say, great men exist that there 
may be greater men. The destiny of organized 
nature is amelioration, and who can tell its limits ? 
It is for man to tame the chaos ; on every side, 


whilst he lives, to scatter the seeds of science and 
of song, that climate, corn, animals, men r may be 
milder, and the germs of love and benefit may be 






Among books, Plato only is entitled to Omar's 
fanatical compliment to the Koran, when he said, 
"Burn the libraries; for, their value is in this 
book." These sentences contain the culture of 
nations ; these are the corner-stone of schools ; 
these are the fountain-head of literatures. A 
discipline it is in logic, arithmetic, taste, symme- 
try, poetry, language, rhetoric, ontology, morals, 
or practical wisdom. There was never such 
range of speculation. Out of Plato come all 
things that are still written and debated among 
men of thought. Great havoc makes he among 
our originalities. We have reached the mountain 
from which all these drift boulders were detached. 
The Bible of the learned for twenty-two hundred 
years, every brisk young man, who says in succes- 
sion fine things to each reluctant generation, — Boe- 
thius, Rabelais, Erasmus, Bruno, Locke, Rousseau, 


Alfieri, Coleridge, — is some reader of Plato, trans- 
lating into the vernacular, wittily, his good things. 
Even the men of grander proportion suffer some 
deduction from the misfortune (shall I say ?) of 
coming after this exhausting generalizer. St. 
Augustine, Copernicus, Newton, Behmen, Swe- 
denborg, Goethe, are likewise his debtors, and 
must say after him. For it is fair to credit the 
broadest generalizer with all the particulars dedu- 
cible from his thesis. 

Plato is philosophy, and philosophy, Plato, — 
at once the glory and the shame of mankind, 
since neither Saxon nor Roman have availed to 
add any idea to his categories. No wife, no chil- 
dren had he, and the thinkers of all civilized 
nations are his posterity, and are tinged with his 
mind. How many great men Nature is inces- 
santly sending up out of night, to be his 
men, — Platonists ! the Alexandrians, a constel- 
lation of genius ; the Elizabethans, not less ; 
Sir Thomas More, Henry More, John Hales, 
John Smith, Lord Bacon, Jeremy Taylor, Ralph 
Cudworth, Sydenham, Thomas Taylor ; Mar- 
cilius Ficinus, and Picus Mirandola. Calvinism 
is in his Phsedo : Christianity is in it. Mahom- 
etanism draws all its philosophy, in its hand- 
book of morals, the Akhlak-y-Jalaly, from him. 
Mysticism finds in Plato all its texts. This 


citizen of a town in Greece is no villager nor 
patriot. An Englishman reads and says, 'how 
English ! ' a German, — ' how Teutonic ! ' an 
Italian, — l how Roman and how Greek ! 7 As 
they say that Helen of Argos, had that universal 
beauty that every body felt related to her, so 
Plato seems, to a reader in New England, an 
American genius. His broad humanity transcends 
all sectional lines. 

This range of Plato instructs us what to think 
of the vexed question concerning his reputed 
works, — what are genuine, what spurious. It is 
singular that wherever we find a man higher, by 
a whole head, than any of his contemporaries, it 
is sure to come into doubt, what are his real 
works. Thus, Homer, Plato, Raffaelle, Shak- 
speare. For these men magnetise their contem- 
poraries, so that their companions can do for them 
what they can never do for themselves ; and the 
great man does thus live in several bodies, and 
write, or paint, or act, by many hands : and, after 
some time, it is not easy to say what is the au- 
thentic work of the master, and what is only of 
his school. 

Plato, too, like every great man, consumed his 
own times. What is a great man, but one of 
great affinities, who takes up into himself all arts, 
all knowables, as his food? He can 


spare nothing ; he can dispose of every thing. 
What is not good for virtue, is good for know- 
ledge. Hence his contemporaries tax him with 
plagiarism. But the inventor only knows how to 
borrow ; and society is glad to forget the innu- 
merable laborers who ministered to this architect, 
and reserves all its gratitude for him. When we 
are praising Plato, it seems we are praising quota- 
tions from Solon, and Sophron, and Philolaus. 
Be it so. Every book is a quotation ; and every 
house is a quotation out of all forests, and mines, 
and stone quarries ; and every man is a quotation 
from all his ancestors. And this grasping inventor 
puts all nations under contribution. 

Plato absorbed the learning of his times, — Phi- 
lolaus, Timeeus, Heraclitus, Parmenides, and what 
else ; then his master, Socrates ; and, finding him- 
self still capable of a larger synthesis, — beyond 
all example then or since, — he travelled into 
Italy, to gain what Pythagoras had for him ; then 
into Egypt, and perhaps still farther east, to im- 
port the other element, which Europe wanted, 
into the European mind. This breadth entitles 
him to stand as the representative of philosophy- 
He says, in the Republic, " Such a genius as 
philosophers must of necessity have, is wont but 
seldom, in all its parts, to meet in one man ; but 
its different parts generally spring up in different 


persons." Every man, who would do any thing 
well, must come to it from a higher ground. A 
philosopher must be more than a philosopher. 
Plato is clothed with the powers of a poet, stands 
upon the highest place of the poet, and, (though 
I doubt he wanted the decisive gift of lyric ex- 
pression,) mainly is not a poet, because he chose 
to use the poetic gift to an ulterior purpose. 

Great geniuses have the shortest biographies. 
Their cousins can tell you nothing about them. 
They lived in their writings, and so their house 
and street life was trivial and commonplace. If 
you would know their tastes and complexions,, 
the most admiring of their readers most resembles 
them. Plato, especially, has no external biog- 
raphy. If he had lover, wife, or children, we 
hear nothing of them. He ground them all into 
paint. As a good chimney burns its smoke, so 
a philosopher converts the value of all his for- 
tunes into his intellectual performances. 

He was born 430, A. C, about the time of the 
death of Pericles ; was of patrician connection in 
his times and city ; and is said to have had an 
early inclination for war ; but, in his twentieth 
year, meeting with Socrates, was easily dissuaded 
from this pursuit, and remained for ten years his 
scholar, until the death of Socrates. He then 
Avent to Megara ; accepted the invitations of Dion 


and of Dionysius, to the court of Sicily ; and went 
thither three times, though very capriciously 
treated. He travelled into Italy j then into 
Egypt, where he stayed a long time ; some say 
three, — =- some say thirteen years. It is said, he 
went farther, into Babylonia : this is uncertain. 
Returning to Athens, he gave lessons, in the 
Academy, to those whom his fame drew thither ; 
and died, as we have received it, in the act of 
writing, at eighty-one years. 

But the biography of Plato is interior. We 
are to account for the supreme elevation of this 
mail} in the intellectual history of our race, — how 
it happens that, in proportion to the culture of 
men, they become his scholars ; that, as our 
Jewish Bible has implanted itself in the table- 
talk and household life of every man and woman 
in the European and American nations, so the 
writings of Plato have preoccupied every school 
cf learning, every lover of thought, every church, 
every poet, — making it impossible to think, on 
certain levels, except through him. He stands 
between the truth and every man's mind, and has 
almost impressed language, and the primary forms 
of thought, with his name and seal. I am struck, 
in reading him, with the extreme modernness of 
his style and spirit. Here is the germ of that 
Europe we know so well, in its long history of 


arts and arms : here are all its traits, already dis* 
cernible in the mind of Plato, — and in none before 
him. It has spread itself since into a hundred 
histories, but has added no new element. This 
perpetual modernness is the measure of merit, in 
every work of art ; since the author of it was 
not misled by any thing short-lived or local, but 
abode by real and abiding traits. How Plato 
came thus to be Europe, and philosophy, and 
almost literature, is the problem for us to 

This could not have happened, without a sound, 
sincere, and catholic man, able to honor, at the 
same time, the ideal, or laws of the mind, and 
fate, or the order of nature. The first period of a 
nation, as of an individual, is the period of uncon- 
scious strength. Children cry, scream, and 
stamp with fury, unable to express their desires. 
As soon as they can speak and tell their want, 
and the reason of it, they become gentle. In 
adult life, whilst the perceptions are obtuse, men 
and women talk vehemently and superlatively, 
blunder and quarrel : their manners are full of 
desperation ; their speech is full of oaths. As 
soon as, with culture, things have cleared up a 
little, and they see them no longer in lumps and 
masses, but accurately distributed, they desist 
from that weak vehemence, and explain their 


meaning in detail. If the tongue had not been 
framed for articulation, man would still be a beast 
in the forest. The same weakness and want, 
on a higher plane, occurs daily in the education 
of ardent young men and women. ' Ah ! you 
don't understand me ; I have never met with any 
one who comprehends me : ' and they sigh and 
weep, write verses, and walk alone, — fault of 
power to express their precise meaning. In a 
month or two, through the favor of their good 
genius, they meet some one so related as to assist 
their volcanic estate ; and, good communication 
being once established, they are thenceforward 
good citizens. It is ever thus. The progress is 
to accuracy, to skill, to truth, from blind force. 

There is a moment, in the history of every 
nation, when, proceeding out of this brute youth, 
the perceptive powers reach their ripeness, and 
have not yet become microscopic : so that man, at 
that instant, extends across the entire scale ; and, 
with his feet still planted on the immense forces 
of night, converses, by his eyes and brain, with 
solar and stellar creation. That is the moment 
of adult health, the culmination of power. 

Such is the history of Europe, in all points ; and 
such in philosophy. Its early records, almost per- 
ished, are of the immigrations from Asia, bringing 
with them the dreams of barbarians ; a confusion 


of crude notions of morals, and of natural philos- 
ophy, gradually subsiding, through the partial 
insight of single teachers. 

Before Pericles, came the Seven Wise Masters ; 
and we have the beginnings of geometry, meta- 
physics, and ethics : then the partialists, — dedu- 
cing the origin of things from flux or water, or from 
air, or from fire, or from mind. All mix with 
these causes mythologic pictures. At last, comes 
Plato, the distributor, who needs no barbaric 
paint, or tattoo, or whooping ; for he can define. 
He leaves with Asia the vast and superlative j he 
is the arrival of accuracy and intelligence. " He 
shall be as a god to me, who can rightly divide 
and define." 

This defining is philosophy. Philosophy is the 
account which the human mind gives to itself of 
the constitution of the world. Two cardinal facts 
lie forever at the base ; the one, and the two. — 
1. Unity, or Identity; and, 2. Yariety. We unite 
all things, by perceiving the law which pervades 
them ; by perceiving the superficial differences, and 
the profound resemblances. But every mental 
act, — this very perception of identity or oneness, 
recognizes the difference of things. Oneness and 
otherness. It is impossible to speak, or to think, 
without embracing both. 

The mind is urged to ask for one cause of many 


effects ; then for the cause of that ; and again the 
cause, diving still into the profound : self-assured 
that it shall arrive at an absolute and sufficient 
one, — a one that shall be all. " In the midst of 
the sun is the light, in the midst of the light is 
truth, and in the midst of truth is the imperisha- 
ble being," say the Vedas. All philosophy, of 
east and west, has the same centripetence. 
Urged by an opposite necessity, the mind returns 
from the one, to that which is not one, but other 
or many j from cause to effect ; and affirms the 
necessary existence of variety, the self-existence 
of both, as each is involved in the other. 
These strictly-blended elements it is the prob- 
lem of thought to separate, and to reconcile. 
Their existence is mutually contradictory and 
exclusive ; and each so fast slides into the other, 
that we can never say what is one, and what it is 
not. The Proteus is as nimble in the highest as 
in the lowest grounds, when we contemplate the 
one, the true, the good, — as in the surfaces and 
extremities of matter. 

In all nations, there are minds which incline to 
dwell in the conception of the fundamental Unity. 
The raptures of prayer and ecstasy of devotion 
lose all being in one Being. This tendency finds 
its highest expression in the religious writings of 
the East, and chiefly, in the Indian Scriptures, in 


the Vedas, the Bhagavat Geeta, and the Vishnu 
Purana. Those writings contain little else than 
this idea, and they rise to pure and sublime strains 
in celebrating it. 

The Same, the Same : friend and foe are of one 
stuff : the ploughman, the plough, and the furrow, 
are of one stuff; and the stuff is such, and so 
much, that the variations of form are unimpor- 
tant. " You are fit," (says the supreme Krishna to a 
sage,) " to apprehend that you are not distinct from 
me. That which I am, thou art, and that also is 
this world, with its gods, and heroes, and man- 
kind. Men contemplate distinctions, because 
they are stupefied with ignorance." " The words 
/ and mine constitute ignorance. What is the 
great end of all, you shall now learn from me. 
It is soul, — one in all bodies, pervading, uniform, 
perfect, preeminent over nature, exempt from 
birth, growth, and decay, omnipresent, made up 
of true knowledge, independent, unconnected 
with unrealities, with name, species, and the rest, 
in time past, present, and to come. The know- 
ledge that this spirit, which is essentially one, is in 
one's own, and in all other bodies, is the wisdom 
of one who knows the unity of things. As one 
diffusive air, passing through the perforations of a 
flute, is distinguished as the notes of a scale, so 
the nature of the Great Spirit is single, though its 


forms be manifold, arising from the consequences 
of acts. When the difference of the investing 
form, as that of god, or the rest, is destroyed, 
there is no distinction." " The whole world is 
but a manifestation of Yishnu, who is identical 
with all things, and is to be regarded by the wise, 
as not differing from, but as the same as them- 
selves. I neither am going nor coming j nor is my 
dwelling in any one place ; nor art thou, thou ; nor 
are others, others ; nor am I, I." As if he had 
said, ' All is for the soul, and the soul is Vishnu ; 
and animals and stars are transient paintings ; and 
light is whitewash ; and durations are deceptive ; 
and form is imprisonment ; and heaven itself a 
decoy.' That which the soul seeks is resolution 
into being, above form, out of Tartarus, and out 
of heaven, — liberation from nature. 

If speculation tends thus to a terrific unity, in 
which all things are absorbed, action tends directly 
backwards to diversity. The first is the course 
or gravitation of mind ; the second is the power 
of nature. Nature is the manifold. The unity 
absorbs, and melts or reduces. Nature opens and 
creates. These two principles reappear and inter- 
penetrate all things, all thought ; the one, the 
many. One is being ; the other, intellect : one is 
necessity ; the other, freedom : one, rest ; the other, 
motion : one, power ; the other, distribution : one, 


strength ; the other, pleasure : one, consciousness ; 
the other, definition : one, genius ; the other, tal- 
ent : one, earnestness ; the other, knowledge : one, 
possession ; the other, trade : one, caste ; the other, 
culture : one, king ; the other, democracy : and, if 
we dare carry these generalizations a step higher, 
and name the last tendency of both, we might 
say, that the end of the one is escape from organ- 
ization, — pure science ; and the end of the other is 
the highest instrumentality, or use of means, or 
executive deity. 

Each student adheres, by temperament and by 
habit, to the first or to the second of these gods 
of the mind. By religion, he tends to unity ; by 
intellect, or by the senses, to the many. A too 
rapid unification, and an excessive appliance to 
parts and particulars, are the twin dangers of spec- 

To this partiality the history of nations cor- 
responded. The country of unity, of immovable 
institutions, the seat of a philosophy delighting 
in abstractions, of men faithful in doctrine and 
in practice to the idea of a deaf, unimplorable, 
immense fate, is Asia; and it realizes this faith 
in the social institution of caste. On the other 
side, the genius of Europe is active and creative : 
it resists caste by culture ; its philosophy was a 
discipline ; it is a land of arts, inventions, trade, 


freedom. If the East loved infinity, the West 
delighted in boundaries. 

European civility is the triumph of talent, the 
extension of system, the sharpened understanding, 
adaptive skill, delight in forms, delight in man- 
ifestation, in comprehensible results. Pericles, 
Athens, Greece, had been working in this ele- 
ment with the joy of genius not yet chilled by 
any foresight of the detriment of an excess. 
They saw before them no sinister political econ- 
omy ; no ominous Malthus ; no Paris or London ; 
no pitiless subdivision of classes, — the doom of the 
pin-makers, the doom of the weavers, of dressers, 
of stockingers, of carders, of spinners, of colliers ; 
no Ireland ; no Indian caste, superinduced by the 
efforts of Europe to throw it off. The under- 
standing was in its health and prime. Art was 
in its splendid novelty. They cut the Pentelican 
marble as if it were snow, and their perfect works in 
architecture and sculpture seemed things of course, 
not more difficult than the completion of a new 
ship at the Medford yards, or new mills at Lowell. 
These things are in course, and may be taken for 
granted. The Roman legion, Byzantine legisla- 
tion, English trade, the saloons of Versailles, 
the cafes of Paris, the steam-mill, steamboat, 
steam-coach, may all be seen in perspective ; the 


lown-meeting, the ballot-box, the newspaper and 
cheap press. 

Meantime, Plato, in Egypt and in eastern pil- 
grimages, imbibed the idea of one Deity, in which 
all things are absorbed. The unity of Asia, and 
the detail of Europe ; the infinitude of the Asiatic 
soul, and the defining, result-loving, machine- 
making, surface-seeking, opera-going Europe, — 
Plato came to join, and by contact, to enhance 
the energy of each. The excellence of Europe 
and Asia are in his brain. Metaphysics and natu- 
ral philosophy expressed the genius of Europe ; 
he substructs the religion of Asia, as the base. 

In short, a balanced soul was born, perceptive 
of the two elements. It is as easy to be great as 
to be small. The reason why we do not at once 
believe in admirable souls, is because they are not 
in our experience. In actual life, they are so 
rare, as to be incredible ; but, primarily, there is 
not only no presumption against them, but the 
strongest presumption in favor of their appearance. 
But whether voices were heard in the sky, or not ; 
whether his mother or his father dreamed that the 
infant man-child was the son of Apollo ; whether 
a swarm of bees settled on his lips, or not ; a man 
who could see two sides of a thing was born. 
The wonderful synthesis so familiar in nature \ 


the upper and the under side of the medal of Jove ; 
the union of impossibilities, which reappears in 
every object ; its real and its ideal power, — was 
now, also, transferred entire to the consciousness 
of a man. 

The balanced soul came. If he loved abstract 
truth, he saved himself by propounding the most 
popular of all principles, the absolute good, which 
rules rulers, and judges the judge. If he made 
transcendental distinctions, he fortified himself by 
drawing all his illustrations from sources disdained 
by orators and polite conversers ; from mares and 
puppies j from pitchers and soup-ladles ; from cooks 
and criers j the shops of potters, horse-doctors, 
butchers, and fishmongers. He cannot forgive 
in himself a partiality, but is resolved that the two 
poles of thought shall appear in his statement. 
His argument and his sentence are self-poised and 
spherical. The two poles appear ; yes, and be- 
come two hands, to grasp and appropriate their 

Every great artist has been such by synthesis. 
Our strength is transitional, alternating ; or, shall I 
say, a thread of two strands. The sea-shore, sea 
seen from shore, shore seen from sea ; the taste 
of two metals in contact ; and our enlarged pow- 
ers at the approach and at the departure of a 
friend j the experience of poetic creativeness, 


which is not found in staying at home, nor yet in 
travelling, but in transitions from one to the other, 
which must therefore be adroitly managed to pre- 
sent as much transitional surface as possible ; this 
command of two elements must explain the power 
and the charm of Plato. Art expresses the one, 
or the same by the different. Thought seeks to 
know unity in unity ; poetry to show it by vari- 
ety ; that is, always by an object or symbol. 
Plato keeps the two vases, one of aether and one 
of pigment, at his side, and invariably uses both. 
Things added to things, as statistics, civil history, 
are inventories. Things used as language are 
inexhaustibly attractive. Plato turns incessantly 
the obverse and the reverse of the medal of 

To take an example : — The physical philoso- 
phers had sketched each his theory of the world ; 
the theory of atoms, of fire, of flux, of spirit ; 
theories mechanical and chemical in their genius. 
Plato, a master of mathematics, studious of all 
natural laws and causes, feels these, as second 
causes, to be no theories of the world, but bare 
inventories and lists. To the study of nature he 
therefore prefixes the dogma, — " Let us declare 
the cause which led the Supreme Ordainer to pro- 
duce and compose the universe. He was good ; 
and he who is good has no kind of envy. Ex- 


empt from envy, he wished that all things should 
be as much as possible like himself. Whosoever, 
taught by wise men, shall admit this as the prime 
cause of the origin and foundation of the world, 
will be in the truth." "All things are for the 
sake of the good, and it is the cause of every 
thing beautiful." This dogma animates and im- 
personates his philosophy. 

The synthesis which makes the character of 
his mind appears in all his talents. Where there 
is great compass of wit, we usually find excellen- 
cies that combine easily in the living man, but in 
description appear incompatible. The mind of 
Plato is not to be exhibited by a Chinese cata- 
logue, but is to be apprehended by an original 
mind in the exercise of its original power. In 
him the freest abandonment is united with the 
precision of a geometer. His daring imagination 
gives him the more solid grasp of facts ; as the 
birds of highest flight have the strongest alar 
bones. His patrician polish, his intrinsic elegance, 
edged by an irony so subtle that it stings and par- 
alyses, adorn the soundest health and strength of 
frame. According to the old sentence, "If Jove 
should descend to the earth, he would speak in 
the style of Plato." 

With this palatial air, there is, for the direct aim 
of several of his works, and running through the 

plato; oh, the philosopher. 61 

tenor of them all, a certain earnestness, which 
mounts, in the Republic, and in the Phaedo, to 
piety. He has been charged with feigning sickness 
at the time of the death of Socrates. But the anec- 
dotes that have come down from the times attest 
his manly interference before the people in his 
master's behalf, since even the savage cry of the 
assembly to Plato is preserved ; and the indigna- 
tion towards popular government, in many of his 
pieces, expresses a personal exasperation. He has 
a probity, a native reverence for justice and honor, 
and a humanity which makes him tender for the 
superstitions of the people. Add to this, he believes 
that poetry, prophecy, and the high insight, are 
from a wisdom of which man is not master ; that 
the gods never philosophise ; but, by a celestial 
mania, these miracles are accomplished. Horsed 
on these winged steeds, he sweeps the dim regions, 
visits worlds which flesh cannot enter: he saw 
the souls in pain ; he hears the doom of the 
judge ; he beholds the penal metempsychosis ; the 
Fates, with the rock and shears ; and hears the 
intoxicating hum of their spindle. 

But his circumspection never forsook him. One 
would say, he had read the inscription on the gates 
of Busyrane, — " Be bold ; " and on the second 
gate, — " Be bold, be bold, and evermore be bold : " 
and then again had paused well at the third gate, — 


"Be not too bold." His strength is like the 
momentum of a falling planet ; and his discretion, 
the return of its due and perfect curve, — so excel- 
lent is his Greek love of boundary, and his skill 
in definition. In reading logarithms, one is not 
more secure, than in following Plato in his flights. 
Nothing can be colder than his head, when the 
lightnings of his imagination are playing in the 
sky. He has finished his thinking, before he 
brings it to the reader ; and he abounds in the 
surprises of a literary master. He has that opu- 
lence which furnishes, at every turn, the precise 
Aveapon he needs. As the rich man wears no 
more garments, drives no more horses, sits in no 
more chambers, than the poor, — but has that 
one dress, or equipage, or instrument, which is fit 
for the hour and the need : so Plato, in his plenty, 
is never restricted, but has the fit word. There 
is, indeed, no weapon in all the armory of wit 
which he did not possess and use, — epic, analysis, 
mania, intuition, music, satire, and irony, down 
to the customary and polite. His illustrations are 
poetry, and his jests illustrations. Socrates' pro- 
fession of obstetric art is good philosophy ; and his 
finding that word " cookery," and " adulatory art," 
for rhetoric, in the Gorgias, does us a substantial 
service still. No orator can measure in effect with 
him who can give good nicknames. 


What moderation, and understatement, and 
checking his thunder in mid volley ! He has 
good-naturedly furnished the courtier and citizen 
with all that can be said against the schools. 
" For philosophy is an elegant thing, if any one 
modestly meddles with it ; hut, if he is conver- 
sant with it more than is becoming, it corrupts 
the man." He could well afford to be generous, — 
he, who from the sunlike centrality and reach of 
his vision, had a faith without cloud. Such as his 
perception, was his speech : he plays with the 
doubt, and makes the most of it : he paints and 
quibbles ; and by and by comes a sentence that 
moves the sea and land. The admirable earnest 
comes not only at intervals, in the perfect yes 
and no of the dialogue, but in bursts of light. 
" I, therefore, Callicles, am persuaded by these 
accounts, and consider how I may exhibit my 
soul before the judge in a healthy condition. 
Wherefore, disregarding the honors that most 
men value, and looking to the truth, I shall 
endeavor in reality to live as virtuously as I can ; 
and, when I die, to die so. And I invite all other 
men, to the utmost of my power j and you, too, I 
in turn invite to this contest, which, I affirm, 
surpasses all contests here." 

He is a great average man ; one who, to the best 
thinking, adds a proportion and equality in his 


faculties, so that men see in him their own dreams 
and glimpses made available, and made to pass 
for what they are. A great common sense is his 
warrant and qualification to be the world's inter- 
preter. He has reason, as all the philosophic and 
poetic class have : but he has, also, what they 
have not, — this strong solving sense to reconcile 
his poetry with the appearances of the world, 
and build a bridge from the streets of cities to 
the Atlantis. He omits never this graduation, but 
slopes his thought, however picturesque the pre- 
cipice on one side, to an access from the plain. 
He never writes in ecstasy, or catches us up into 
poetic raptures. 

Plato apprehended the cardinal facts. He could 
prostrate himself on the earth, and cover his 
eyes, whilst he adored that which cannot be 
numbered, or guaged, or known, or named : that 
of which every thing can be affirmed and denied : 
that " which is entity and nonentity." He called 
it super-essential. He even stood ready, as in the 
Parmenides, to demonstrate that it was so, — that 
this Being exceeded the limits of intellect. No 
man ever more fully acknowledged the Ineffable. 
Having paid his homage, as for the human race, 
to the Illimitable, he then stood erect, and for the 
human race affirmed, l And yet things are know- 


able ! ' — that is, the Asia in his mind was first 
heartily honored, — the ocean of love and power, 
before form, before will, before knowledge, the 
Same, the Good, the One ; and now, refreshed and 
empowered by this worship, the instinct of 
Europe, namely, culture, returns ; and he cries, 
Yet things are knowable ! They are knowable, 
because, being from one, things correspond. 
There is a scale : and the correspondence of 
heaven to earth, of matter to mind, of the part to 
the whole, is our guide. As there is a science 
of stars, called astronomy ; a science of quantities, 
called mathematics ; a science of qualities, called 
chemistry ; so there is a science of sciences, — I 
call it Dialectic, — which is the Intellect discrim- 
inating the false and the true. It rests on the 
observation of identity and diversity ; for, to judge, 
is to unite to an object the notion which belongs 
to it. The sciences, even the best, — mathematics, 
and astronomy, — are like sportsmen, who seize 
whatever prey offers, even without being able to 
make any use of it. Dialectic must teach the use 
of them. " This is of that rank that no intel- 
lectual man will enter on any study for its own 
sake, but only with a view to advance himself in 
that one sole science which embraces all." 

" The essence or peculiarity of man is to com- 
prehend a whole ; or that which, in the diversity 


of sensations, can be comprised under a rational 
unity." " The soul which has never perceived 
the truth, cannot pass into the human form." I 
announce to men the Intellect. I announce the 
good of being interpenetrated by the mind that 
made nature : this benefit, namely, that it can 
understand nature, which it made and maketh. 
Nature is good, but intellect is better : as the law- 
giver is before the law-receiver. I give you joy, 
O sons of men ! that truth is altogether whole- 
some ; that we have hope to search out what 
might be the very self of every thing. The 
misery of man is to be baulked of the sight of 
essence, and to be stuffed with conjectures : but 
the supreme good is reality ; the supreme beauty 
is reality ; and all virtue and all felicity depend 
on this science of the real : for courage is nothing 
else than knowledge : the fairest fortune that can 
befall man, is to be guided by his daemon to that 
which is truly his own. This also is the essence 
of justice, — to attend every one his own : nay, the 
notion of virtue is not to be arrived at, except 
through direct contemplation of the divine essence. 
Courage, then ! for, " the persuasion that we must 
search that which we do not know, will render 
us, beyond comparison, better, braver, and more 
industrious, than if we thought it impossible to 
discover what we do not know, and useless to 


search for it." He secures a position not to be 
commanded, by his passion for reality ; valuing 
philosophy only as it is the pleasure of con- 
versing with real being. 

Thus, full of the genius of Europe, he said, 
Culture. He saw the institutions of Sparta, and 
recognized more genially, one would say, than 
any since, the hope of education. He delighted 
in every accomplishment, in every graceful and 
useful and truthful performance ; above all, in the 
splendors of genius and intellectual achievement. 
" The whole of life, O Socrates, said Glauco, is, 
with the wise, the measure of hearing such dis- 
courses as these." What a price he sets on the 
feats of talent, on the powers of Pericles, of 
Isocrates, of Parmenides ! What price, above 
price, on the talents themselves ! He called the 
several faculties, gods, in his beautiful personation. 
What value he gives to the art of gymnastic in 
education ; what to geometry ; what to music ; 
what to astronomy, whose appeasing and medi- 
cinal power he celebrates ! In the Timseus. he 
indicates the highest employment of the eyes. 
" By us it is asserted, that God invented and 
bestowed sight on us for this purpose, — that, 
on surveying the circles of intelligence in the 
heavens, we might properly employ those of our 
own minds, which, though disturbed when com- 


pared with the others that are uniform, are 
still allied to their circulations ; and that, having 
thus learned, and being naturally possessed of 
a correct reasoning faculty, we might, by imi- 
tating the uniform revolutions of divinity, set 
right our own wanderings and blunders." And 
in the Republic, — " By each of these disci- 
plines, a certain organ of the soul is both purified 
and reanimated, which is blinded and buried by 
studies of another kind ; an organ better worth 
saving than ten thousand eyes, ' since truth is 
perceived by this alone." 

He said, Culture ; but he first admitted its 
basis, and gave immeasurably the first place to 
advantages of nature. His patrician tastes laid 
stress on the distinctions of birth. In the doc- 
trine of the organic character and disposition is 
the origin of caste. " Such as were fit to govern, 
into their composition the informing Deity min- 
gled gold : into the military, silver ; iron and 
brass for husbandmen and artificers." The East 
confirms itself, in all ages, in this faith. The 
Koran is explicit on this point of caste. " Men 
have their metal, as of gold and silver. Those 
of you who were the worthy ones in the state of 
ignorance, will be the worthy ones in the state 
of faith, as soon as you embrace it." Plato was 
not less firm. " Of the five orders of things, only 


four can be taught to the generality of men." 
In the Republic, he insists on the temperaments 
of the youth, as first of the first. 

A happier example of the stress laid on nature, 
is in the dialogue with the young Theages, who 
wishes to receive lessons from Socrates. Socrates 
declares that, if some have grown wise by asso- 
ciating with him, no thanks are due to him ; but, 
simply, whilst they were with him, they grew 
wise, not because of him ; he pretends not to 
know the way of it. "It is adverse to many, 
nor can those be benefited by associating with 
me, whom the Dsmon opposes ; so that it is not 
possible for me to live with these. With many, 
however, he does not prevent me from convers- 
ing, who yet are not at all benefited by associating 
with me. Such, O Theages, is the association 
with me ; for, if it pleases the God, you will make 
great and rapid proficiency : you will not, if he 
does not please. Judge whether it is not safer to 
be instructed by some one of those who have 
power over the benefit which they impart to 
men, than by me, who benefit or not, just as it 
may happen." As if he had said, * I have no 
system. I cannot be answerable for you. You 
will be what you must. If there is love between 
us, inconceivably delicious and profitable will our 
intercourse be ; if not, your time is lost, and you 


will only annoy me. I shall seem to you stupid, 
and the reputation I have, false. Quite above us, 
beyond the will of you or me, is this secret affinity 
or repulsion laid. All my good is magnetic, and 
I educate, not by lessons, but by going about my 

He said, Culture ; he said, Nature : and he 
failed not to add, ' There is also the divine. ' 
There is no thought in any mind, but it quickly 
tends to convert itself into a power, and organizes 
a huge instrumentality of means. Plato, lover 
of limits, loved the illimitable, saw the enlarge- 
ment and nobility which come from truth itself 
and good itself, and attempted, as if on the 
part of the human intellect, once for all, to do it 
adequate homage, — homage fit for the immense 
soul to receive, and yet homage becoming the 
intellect to render. He said, then, l Our faculties 
run out into infinity, and return to us thence. 
We can define but a little way ; but here is a fact 
which will not be skipped, and which to shut our 
eyes upon is suicide. All things are in a scale ; 
and, begin where we will, ascend and ascend. 
All things are symbolical; and what we call 
results are beginnings.' 

A key to the method and completeness of Plato 
is his twice bisected line. After he has illustrated 
the relation between the absolute good and true, 


and the forms of the intelligible world, he says : — 
u Let there be a line cut in two unequal parts. 
Cut again each of these two parts, — one represent- 
ing the visible, the other the intelligible world, — 
and these two new sections, representing the bright 
part and the dark part of these worlds, you will 
have, for one of the sections of the visible world, — 
images, that is, both shadows and reflections ; for 
the other section, the objects of these images, — 
that is, plants, animals, and the works of art and 
nature. Then divide the intelligible world in 
like manner ; the one section will be of opinions 
and hypotheses, and the other section, of truths." 
To these four sections, the four operations of the 
soul correspond, — conjecture, faith, understand- 
ing, reason. As every pool reflects the image of 
the sun, so every thought and thing restores us 
an image and creature of the supreme Good. 
The universe is perforated by a million channels 
for his activity. All things mount and mount. 

All his thought has this ascension j in Phaedrus, 
teaching that beauty is the most lovely of all 
things, exciting hilarity, and shedding desire and 
confidence through the universe, wherever it en- 
ters ; and it enters, in some degree, into all things : 
but that there is another, which is as much more 
beautiful than beauty, as beauty is than chaos; 
namely, wisdom, which our wonderful organ of 


sight cannot reach unto, but which, could it be seen, 
would ravish us with its perfect reality." He has 
the same regard to it as the source of excellence in 
works of art. " When an artificer, in the fabri- 
cation of any work, looks to that which always 
subsists according to the same ; and, employing a 
model of this kind, expresses its idea and power 
in his work ; it must follow, that his production 
should be beautiful. But when he beholds that 
which is born and dies, it will be far from beau- 

Thus ever : the Banquet is a teaching in the 
same spirit, familiar now to all the poetry, and to 
all the sermons of the world, that the love of 
trie sexes is initial ; and symbolizes, at a distance, 
the passion of the soul for that immense lake of 
beauty it exists to seek. This faith in the Divin- 
ity is never out of miud, and constitutes the lim- 
itation of all his dogmas. Body cannot teach 
wisdom ; — God only. In the same mind, he 
constantly affirms that virtue cannot be taught j 
that it is not a science, but an inspiration ; that 
the greatest goods are produced to us through 
mania, and are assigned to us by a divine gift. 

This leads me to that central figure, which he 
has established in his Academy, as the organ 
through which every considered opinion shall be 
announced, and whose biography he has likewise 


so labored, that the historic facts are lost in the 
light of Plato's mind. Socrates and Plato are the 
double star, which the most powerful instruments 
will not entirely separate. Socrates, again, in his 
traits and genius, is the best example of that 
synthesis which constitutes Plato's extraordinary 
power. Socrates, a man of humble stem, but 
honest enough ; of the commonest history ; of a 
personal homeliness so remarkable, as to be a 
cause of wit in others, — the rather that his broad 
good nature and exquisite taste for a joke invited 
the sally, which was sure to be paid. The play- 
ers personated him on the stage ; the potters copied 
his ugly face on their stone jugs. He was a cool 
fellow, adding to his humor a perfect temper, and 
a knowledge of his man, be he who he might 
whom he talked with, which laid the companion 
open to certain defeat in any debate, — and in 
debate he immoderately delighted. The young 
men are prodigiously fond of him, and invite him 
to their feasts, whither he goes for conversation. 
He can drink, too ; has the strongest head in 
Athens ; and, after leaving the whole party under 
the table, goes away, as if nothing had happened, 
to begin new dialogues with somebody that is 
sober. In short, he was what our country- 
people call an old one. 

He affected a good many citizen-like tastes, was 


monstrously fond of Athens, hated trees, never 
willingly went beyond the walls, knew the old 
characters, valued the bores and philistines, 
thought every thing in Athens a little better than 
any thing in any other place. He was plain as a 
Quaker in habit and speech, affected low phrases, 
and illustrations from cocks and quails, soup-pans 
and sycamore-spoons, grooms and farriers, and 
unnameable offices, — especially if he talked 
with any superfine person. He had a Franklin- 
like wisdom. Thus, he showed one who was 
afraid to go on foot to Olympia, that it was no 
more than his daily walk within doors, if contin- 
uously extended, would easily reach. 

Plain old uncle as he was, with his great ears, — 
an immense talker, — the rumor ran, that, on one 
or two occasions, in the war with Bceotia, he had 
shown a determination which had covered the 
retreat of a troop ; and there was some story 
that, under cover of folly, he had, in the city gov- 
ernment, when one day he chanced to hold a seat 
there, evinced a courage in opposing singly the 
popular voice, which had well-nigh ruined him. 
He is very poor ; but then he is hardy as a soldier, 
and can live on a few olives ; usually, in the 
strictest sense, on bread and water, except when 
entertained by his friends. His necessary ex- 
penses were exceedingly small, and no one could 


live as ho did. He wore no under garment ; his 
upper garment was the same for summer and win- 
ter ; and he went barefooted ; and it is said that, 
to procure the pleasure, which he loves, of talking 
at his ease all day with the most elegant and cul- 
tivated young men, he will now and then return 
to his shop, and carve statues, good or bad, for 
sale. However that be, it is certain that he had 
grown to delight in nothing else than this conver- 
sation ; and that, under his hypocritical pretence 
of knowing nothing, he attacks and brings down 
all the line speakers, all the fine philosophers of 
Athens, whether natives, or strangers from Asia 
Minor and the islands. Nobody can refuse to talk 
with him, he is so honest, and really curious to 
know ; a man who was willingly confuted, if he 
did not speak the truth, and who willingly con- 
futed others, asserting what was false ; and not less 
pleased when confuted than when confuting ; for 
he thought not any evil happened to men, of such 
a magnitude as false opinion respecting the just 
and unjust. A pitiless disputant, who knows 
nothing, but the bounds of whose conquering 
intelligence no man had ever reached ; whose 
temper was imperturbable ; whose dreadful logic 
was always leisurely and sportive ; so careless and 
ignorant, as to disarm the wariest, and draw them, 
in the pleasantest manner, into horrible doubts 


and confusion. But he always knew the way 
out ; knew it, yet would not tell it. No escape ; 
he drives them to terrible crtoices by his dilem- 
mas, and tosses the Hippiases and Gorgiases, with 
their grand reputations, as a boy tosses his balls. 
The tyrannous realist ! — Meno has discoursed 
a thousand times, at length, on virtue, before 
many companies, and very well, as it appeared to 
him; but, at this moment, he caimot even tell 
what it is, — this cramp-fish of a Socrates has 
so bewitched him. 

This hard-headed humorist, whose strange con- 
ceits, drollery, and bonhommie, diverted the young 
patricians, whilst the rumor of his sayings and 
quibbles gets abroad every day, turns out, in the 
sequel, to have a probity as invincible as his logic, 
and to be either insane, or, at least, under cover 
of this play, enthusiastic in his religion. When 
accused before the judges of subverting the popu- 
lar creed, he affirms the immortality of the soul, 
the future reward and punishment ; and, refusing 
to recant, in a caprice of the popular government, 
was condemned to die, and sent to the prison. 
Socrates entered the prison, and took away all 
ignominy from the place, which could not be a 
prison, whilst he was there. Crito bribed the 
jailer j but Socrates would not go out by treach- 
ery. " Whatever inconvenience ensue, nothing is 

to be preferred before justice. These things I 
hear like pipes and drums, whose sound makes 
me deaf to every thing you say." The fame of 
this prison, the fame of the discourses there, and 
the drinking of the hemlock, are one of the most 
precious passages in the history of the world. 

The rare coincidence, in one ugly body, of the 
droll and the martyr, the keen street and market 
debater with the sweetest saint known to any 
history at that time, had forcibly struck the mind 
of Plato, so capacious of these contrasts ; and 
the figure of Socrates, by a necessity, placed 
itself in the foreground of the scene, as the fittest 
dispenser of the intellectual treasures he had to 
communicate. It was a rare fortune, that this 
iEsop of the mob, and this robed scholar, should 
meet, to make each other immortal in their 
mutual faculty. The strange synthesis, in the 
character of Socrates, capped the synthesis in the 
mind of Plato. Moreover, by this means, he was 
able, in the direct way, and without envy, to avail 
himself of the wit and weight of Socrates, to 
which unquestionably his own debt was great ; 
and these derived again their principal advantage 
from the perfect art of Plato. 

It remains to say, that the defect of Plato in 
power is only that which results inevitably from 

his quality. He is intellectual in his aim ; and, 

7 # 


therefore, in expression, literary. Mounting into 
heaven, diving into the pit, expounding the laws 
of the state, the passion of love, the remorse of 
crime, the hope of the parting soul, — he is literary, 
and never otherwise. It is almost the sole de- 
duction from the merit of Plato, that his writings 
have not, — what is, no doubt, incident to this 
regnancy of intellect in his work, — the vital 
authority which the screams of prophets and the 
sermons of unlettered Arabs and Jews possess. 
There is an interval ; and to cohesion, contact is 

I know not what can be said in reply to this 
criticism, but that we have come to a fact in the 
nature of things : an oak is not an orange. The 
qualities of sugar remain with sugar, and those 
of salt, with salt. 

In the second place, he has not a system. The 
dearest defenders and disciples are at fault. He 
attempted a theory of the universe, and his theory 
is not complete or self-evident. One man thinks 
he means this ; and another, that : he has said 
one thing in one place, and the reverse of it in 
another place. He is charged with having failed 
to make the transition from ideas to matter. 
Here is the world, sound as a nut, perfect, not 
the smallest piece of chaos left, never a stitch 
nor an end, not a mark of haste, or botching, or 


second thought ; but the theory of the world is a 
thing of shreds and patches. 

The longest wave is quickly lost in the sea. 
Plato would willingly have a Platonism, a known 
and accurate expression for the world, and it 
should be accurate. It shall be the world passed 
through the mind of Plato, — nothing less. Every 
atom shall have the Platonic tinge ; every atom, 
every relation or quality you knew before, you 
shall know again, and find here, but now ordered ; 
not nature, but art. And you shall feel that 
Alexander indeed overran, with men and horses, 
some countries of the planet ; but countries, and 
things of which countries are made, elements, 
planet itself, laws of planet and of men, have 
passed through this man as bread into his body, 
and become no longer bread, but body : so all 
this mammoth morsel has become Plato. He has 
clapped copyright on the world. This is the 
ambition of individualism. But the mouthful 
proves too large. Boa constrictor has good will 
to eat it, but he is foiled. He falls abroad in the 
attempt ; and biting, gets strangled : the bitten 
world holds the biter fast by his own teeth. 
There he perishes : unconquered nature lives on, 
and forgets him. So it fares with all : so must it 
fare with Plato. In view of eternal nature, Plato 
turns out to be philosophical exercitations. He 


argues on this side, and on that. The aeutest 
German, the lovingest disciple, could never tell 
what Platonism was j indeed, admirable texts 
can be quoted on both sides of every great 
question from him. 

These things we are forced to say, if we must 
consider the effort of Plato, or of any philosopher, 
to dispose of Nature, — which will not be dis- 
posed of. No power of genius has ever yet had 
the smallest success in explaining existence. 
The perfect enigma remains. But there is an 
injustice in assuming this ambition for Plato. 
Let us not seem to treat with flippancy his ven- 
erable name. Men, in proportion to their intellect, 
have admitted his transcendant claims. The 
way to know him, is to compare him, not with 
nature, but with other men. How many ages 
have gone by, and he remains unapproached ! A 
chief structure of human wit, like Karnac, or the 
mediaeval cathedrals, or the Etrurian remains, it 
requires all the breadth of human faculty to know 
it. I think it is trueliest seen, when seen with the 
most respect. His sense deepens, his merits 
multiply, with study. When Ave say, here is a 
fine collection of fables ; or, when we praise the 
style ; or the common sense ; or arithmetic ; we 
speak as boys, and much of our impatient crit- 
icism of the dialectic, I suspect, is no better. 


The criticism is like our impatience of miles, 
when we are in a hurry ; but it is still best that 
a mile should have seventeen hundred and sixty- 
yards. The great-eyed Plato proportioned the 
lights and shades after the genius of our life. 


The publication, in Mr. Bonn's " Serial Libra- 
ry," of the excellent translations of Plato, which 
we esteem one of the chief benefits the cheap 
press has yielded, gives us an occasion to take 
hastily a few more notes of the elevation and 
bearings of this fixed star ; or, to add a bulletin, 
like the journals, of Plato at the latest dates. 

Modern science, by the extent of its generaliza- 
tion, has learned to indemnify the student of man 
for the defects of individuals, by tracing growth 
and ascent in races ; and, by the simple expedient 
of lighting up the vast background, generates a 
feeling of complacency and hope. The human 
being has the saurian and the plant in his rear. 
His arts and sciences, the easy issue of his brain, 
look glorious when prospectively beheld from the 
distant brain of ox, crocodile, and fish. It seems 
as if nature, in regarding the geologic night be- 
hind her, when, in five or six millenniums, she 


had turned out five or six men, as Homer. Phidias, 
Menu, and Columbus, was no wise discontented 
with the result. These samples attested the virtue 
of the tree. These were a clear amelioration of 
trilobite and saurus, and a good basis for further 
proceeding. With this artist, time and space are 
cheap, and she is insensible to what you say of 
tedious preparation. She waited tranquilly the 
flowing periods of paleontology, for the hour to be 
struck when man should arrive. Then periods 
must pass before the motion of the earth can be 
suspected ; then before the map of the instincts 
and the cultivable powers can be drawn. But as 
of races, so the succession of individual men is 
fatal and beautiful, and Plato has the fortune, in 
the history of mankind, to mark an epoch. 

Plato's fame does not stand on a syllogism, or 
on any masterpieces of the Socratic reasoning, or 
on any thesis, as, for example, the immortality of 
the soul. He is more than an expert, or a school- 
man, or a geometer, or the prophet of a peculiar 
message. He represents the privilege of the in- 
tellect, the power, namely, of carrying up every 
fact to successive platforms, and so disclosing, in 
every fact, a germ of expansion. These expan- 
sions are in the essence of thought. The natu- 
ralist would never help us to them by any discov- 
eries of the extent of the universe, but is as poor, 


when cataloguing the resolved nebula of Orion, 
as when measuring the angles of an acre. But 
the Republic of Plato, by these expansions, 
may be said to require, and so to anticipate, the 
astronomy of Laplace. The expansions are or- 
ganic. The mind does not create what it per- 
ceives, any more than the eye creates the rose. 
In ascribing to Plato the merit of announcing 
them, we only say, here was a more complete 
man, who could apply to nature the whole scale 
of the senses, the understanding, and the reason. 
These expansions, or extensions, consist in contin- 
uing the spiritual sight where the horizon falls on 
our natural vision, and, by this second sight, dis- 
covering the long lines of law which shoot in 
every direction. Everywhere he stands on a 
path which has no end, but runs continuously 
round the universe. Therefore, every word be- 
comes an exponent of nature. Whatever he looks 
upon discloses a second sense, and ulterior senses. 
His perception of the generation of contraries, of 
death out of life, and life out of death, — that law 
by which, in nature, decomposition is recomposi- 
tion, and putrefaction and cholera are only signals 
of a new creation ; his discernment of the little in 
the large, and the large in the small ; studying the 
state in the citizen, and the citizen in the state ; 
and leaving it doubtful whether he exhibited the 


Republic as an allegory on the education of the pri- 
vate soul ; his beautiful definitions of ideas, of time, 
of form, of figure, of the line, sometimes hypotheti- 
cally given, as his defining of virtue, courage, 
justice, temperance ; his love of the apologue, and 
his apologues themselves ; the cave of Tropho- 
nius j the ring of Gyges j the charioteer and two 
horses ; the golden, silver, brass, and iron temper- 
aments ; Theuth and Thamus ; and the visions 
of Hades and the Fates, — ■ fables which have im- 
printed themselves in the human memory like the 
signs of the zodiac j his soliform eye and his bo- 
niform soul ; his doctrine of assimilation ; his doc- 
trine of reminiscence ; his clear vision of the laws 
of return, or reaction, which secure instant justice 
throughout the universe, instanced every where, 
but specially in the doctrine, " what comes from 
God to us, returns from us to God," and in Soc- 
rates' belief that the laws below are sisters of the 
laws above. 

More striking examples are his moral conclu- 
sions. Plato affirms the coincidence of science 
and virtue ; for vice can never know itself and 
virtue ; but virtue knows both itself and vice. 
The eye attested that justice was best, as long as 
it was profitable ; Plato affirms that it is profitable 
throughout ; that the profit is intrinsic, though the 
just conceal his justice from gods and men j that 


it is better to suffer injustice, than to do it ; that 
the sinner ought to covet punishment ; that the 
lie was more hurtful than homicide ; and that ig- 
norance, or the involuntary lie, was more calami- 
tous than involuntary homicide ; that the soul is 
unwillingly deprived of true opinions ; and that 
no man sins willingly ; that the order or proceed- 
ing of nature was from the mind to the body ; 
and, though a sound body cannot restore an un- 
sound mind, yet a good soul can, by its virtue, 
render the body the best possible. The intelligent 
have a right over the ignorant, namely, the right 
of instructing them. The right punishment of 
one out of tune, is to make him play in tune ; the 
fine which the good, refusing to govern, ought to 
pay, is, to be governed by a worse man ; that his 
guards shall not handle gold and silver, but shall 
be instructed that there is gold and silver in their 
souls, which will make men willing to give them 
every thing which they need. 

This second sight explains the stress laid on 
geometry. He saw that the globe of earth was 
not more lawful and precise than was the super- 
sensible ; that a celestial geometry was in place 
there, as a logic of lines and angles here below ; 
that the world was throughout mathematical j the 
proportions are constant of oxygen, azote, and 
lime j there is just so much water, and slate, and 


magnesia ; not less are the proportions constant of 
the moral elements. 

This eldest Goethe, hating varnish and false- 
hood, delighted in revealing the real at the base 
of the accidental j in discovering connection, con- 
tinuity, and representation, everywhere ; hating 
insulation ; and appears like the god of wealth 
among the cabins of vagabonds, opening power 
and capability in every thing he touches. Ethical 
science was new and vacant, when Plato could 
write thus : — " Of all whose arguments are left to 
the men of the present time, no one has ever yet 
condemned injustice, or praised justice, otherwise 
than as respects the repute, honors, and emolu- 
ments arising therefrom ; while, as respects either 
of them in itself, and subsisting by its own power 
in the soul of the possessor, and concealed both 
from gods and men, no one has yet sufficiently 
investigated, either in poetry or prose writings, — 
how, namely, that the one is the greatest of all 
the evils that the soul has within it, and justice 
the greatest good." 

His definition of ideas, as what is simple, 
permanent, uniform, and self-existent, forever 
discriminating them from the notions of the 
understanding, marks an era in the world. He 
was born to behold the self-evolving power of 
spirit, endless generator of new ends ; a power 



which is the key at once to the centrality and 
the evanescence of things. Plato is so centred, 
that he can well spare all his dogmas. Thus the 
fact of knowledge and ideas reveals to him the 
fact of eternity j and the doctrine of reminiscence 
he offers as the most probable particular explica- 
tion. Call that fanciful, — it matters not : the 
connection between our knowledge and the abyss 
of being is still real, and the explication must be 
not less magnificent. 

He has indicated every eminent point in spec- 
ulation. He wrote on the scale of the mind 
itself, so that all things have symmetry in his 
tablet. He put in all the past, without weariness, 
and descended into detail with a courage like 
that he witnessed in nature. One would say, 
that his forerunners had mapped out each a farm, 
or a district, or an island, in intellectual geography, 
but that Plato first drew the sphere. He domes- 
ticates the soul in nature : man is the microcosm. 
All the circles of the visible heaven represent as 
many circles in the rational soul. There is no 
lawless particle, and there is nothing casual in 
the action of the human mind. The names of 
things, too, are fatal, following the nature of 
things. All the gods of the Pantheon are, by 
their names, significant of a profound sense. 
The gods are the ideas. Pan is speech, or man- 


ifestation ; Saturn, the contemplative ; Jove, the 
regal soul ; and Mars, passion. Venus is propor- 
tion ; Calliope, the soul of the world ; Aglaia, 
intellectual illustration. 

These thoughts, in sparkles of light, had ap- 
peared often to pious and to poetic souls ; but this 
well-bred, all-knowing Greek geometer comes 
with command, gathers them all up into rank 
and gradation, the Euclid of holiness, and marries 
the two parts of nature. Before all men, he saw 
the intellectual values of the moral sentiment. 
He describes his own ideal, when he paints in 
Timaeus a god leading things from disorder into 
order. He kindled a fire so truly in the centre, 
that we see the sphere illuminated, and can 
distinguish poles, equator, and lines of latitude, 
every arc and node : a theory so averaged, so 
modulated, that you would say, the winds of 
ages had swept through this rhythmic structure, 
and not that it was the brief extempore blotting 
of one short-lived scribe. Hence it has happened 
that a very well-marked class of souls, namely, 
those who delight in giving a spiritual, that is, an 
ethico-intellectual expression to every truth, by 
exhibiting an ulterior end which is yet legitimate 
to it, are said to Platonise. Thus, Michel Angelo 
is a Platonist, in his sonnets. Shakspeare is a 



Platonist, when he writes, " Nature is made better 
by no mean, but nature makes that mean," or, 

" He, that can endure 
To follow with allegiance a fallen lord, 
Does conquer him that did his master conquer, 
And earns a place in the story." 

Hamlet is a pure Platonist, and 'tis the magnitude 
only of Shakspeare's proper genius that hinders 
him from being classed as the most eminent of 
this school. Swedenborg, throughout his prose 
poem of " Conjugal Love," is a Platonist. 

His subtlety commended him to men of 
thought. The secret of his popular success is the 
moral aim, which endeared him to mankind. 
"Intellect," he said, "is king of heaven and of 
earth ; " but, in Plato, intellect is always moral. 
His writings have also the sempiternal youth of 
poetry. For their arguments, most of them, 
might have been couched in sonnets : and poetry 
has never soared higher than in the Timaeus and 
the Phasdrus. As the poet, too, he is only con- 
templative. He did not, like Pythagoras, break 
himself with an institution. All his painting in 
the Republic must be esteemed mythical, with 
intent to bring out, sometimes in violent colors, 
his thought. You cannot institute, without peril 
of charlatan. 

It was a high scheme, his absolute privilege 


for the best, (which, to make emphatic, he ex- 
pressed by community of women,) as the premium 
which he would set on grandeur. There shall 
be exempts of two kinds : first, those who by 
demerit have put themselves below protection, — 
outlaws ; and secondly, those who by eminence 
of nature and desert are out of the reach of your 
rewards : let such be free of the city, and above 
the law. We confide them to themselves ; let 
them do with us as they will. Let none presume 
to measure the irregularities of Michel Angelo 
and Socrates by village scales. 

In his eighth book of the Republic, he throws a 
little mathematical dust in our eyes. I am sorry 
to see him, after such noble superiorities, permit- 
ting the lie to governors. Plato plays Providence 
a little with the baser sort, as people allow them- 
selves with their dogs and cats. 





Among eminent persons, those who are most 
dear to men are not of the class which the econ- 
omist calls producers : they have nothing in their 
hands ; they have not cultivated corn, nor made 
bread ; they have not led out a colony, nor 
invented a loom. A higher class, in the estima- 
tion and love of this city-building, market-going 
race of mankind, are the poets, who, from the 
intellectual kingdom, feed the thought and imagi- 
nation with ideas and pictures which raise men 
out of the world of corn and money, and console 
them for the short-comings of the day, and the 
meannesses of labor and traffic. Then, also, 
the philosopher has his value, who flatters the 
intellect of this laborer, by engaging him with 
subtleties which instruct him in new faculties. 
Others may build cities ; he is to understand 
them, and keep them in awe. But there is a 


class who lead us into another region, — the world 
of morals, or of will. What is singular about 
this region of thought, is, its claim. Wherever 
the sentiment of right comes in, it takes pre- 
cedence of every thing else. For other things, I 
make poetry of them ; but the moral sentiment 
makes poetry of me. 

I have sometimes thought that he would render 
the greatest service to modern criticism, who shall 
draw the line of relation that subsists between 
Shakspeare and Swedenborg. The human mind 
stands ever in perplexity, demanding intellect, 
demanding sanctity, impatient equally of each 
without the other. The reconciler has not yet 
appeared. If we tire of the saints, Shakspeare 
is our city of refuge. Yet the instincts presently 
teach, that the problem of essence must take pre- 
cedence of all others, — the questions of Whence ? 
What ? and Whither ? and the solution of these 
must be in a life, and not in a book. A drama 
or poem is a proximate or oblique reply ; but 
Moses, Menu, Jesus, work directly on this prob- 
lem. The atmosphere of moral sentiment is a 
region of grandeur which reduces all material 
magnificence to toys, yet opens to every wretch 
that has reason the doors of the universe. Almost 
with a fierce haste it lays its empire on the man. 
In the language of the Koran, " God said, the 


heaven and the earth, and all that is "between 
them, think ye that we created them in jest, and 
that ye shall not return to us ? " It is the king- 
dom of the will, and by inspiring the will, which 
is the seat of personality, seems to convert the 
universe into a person j — 

" The realms of being to no other bow, 
Not only all are thine, but all are Thou." 

All men are commanded by the saint. The 
Koran makes a distinct class of those who are by 
nature good, and whose goodness has an influence 
on others, and pronounces this class to be the 
aim of creation : the other classes are admitted to 
the feast of being, only as following in the train 
of this. And the Persian poet exclaims to a soul 
of this kind, — 

" Go boldly forth, and feast on being's banquet } 
Thou art the called, — the rest admitted with thee." 

The privilege of this caste is an access to the 
secrets and structure of nature, by some higher 
method than by experience. In common par- 
lance, what one man is said to learn by experience, 
a man of extraordinary sagacity is said, without 
experience, to divine. The Arabians say, that 
Abul Khain, the mystic, and Abu Ali Seena, the 


philosopher, conferred together ; and, on parting, 
the philosopher said, " All that he sees, I know ; " 
and the mystic said, u x4.11 that he knows, I see." 
If one should ask the reason of this intuition, the 
solution would lead us into that property which 
Plato denoted as Reminiscence, and which is 
implied by the Bramins in the tenet of Transmi- 
gration. The soul having been often born, or, 
as the Hindoos say, " travelling the path of ex- 
istence through thousands of births," having 
beheld the things which are here, those which are 
in heaven, and those which are beneath, there is 
nothing of which she has not gained the know- 
ledge : no wonder that she is able to recollect, in 
regard to any one thing, what formerly she knew. 
" For, all things in nature being linked and related, 
and the soul having heretofore known all, nothing 
hinders but that any man who has recalled to 
mind, or, according to the common phrase, has 
learned one thing only, should of himself recover 
all his ancient knowledge, and find out again all 
the rest, if he have but courage, and faint not in 
the midst of his researches. For inquiry and learn- 
ing is reminiscence all." How much more, if he 
that inquires be a holy and godlike soul! For, 
by being assimilated to the original soul, by 
whom, and after whom, all things subsist, the 
soul of man does then easily flow into all things, 


and all things flow into it : they mix ; and he is 
present and sympathetic with their structure and 

This path is difficult, secret, and beset with 
terror. The ancients called it ecstacy or ab- 
sence, — a getting out of their bodies to think. 
All religious history contains traces of the trance 
of saints, — a beatitude, but without any sign 
of joy, earnest, solitary, even sad ; " the flight," 
Plotinus called it, " of the alone to the alone;" 
MvsffiSj the closing of the eyes, — whence our 
word, Mystic. The trances of Socrates, Ploti- 
nus, Porphyry, Behmen, Bunyan, Fox, Pascal, 
Guion, Swedenborg, will readily come to mind. 
But what as readily comes to mind, is, the accom- 
paniment of disease. This beatitude comes in 
terror, and with shocks to the mind of the re- 
ceiver. " It o'erinforms the tenement of clay," 
and drives the man mad ; or, gives a certain 
violent bias, which taints his judgment. In the 
chief examples of religious illumination, some- 
what morbid has mingled, in spite of the unques- 
tionable increase of mental power. Must the 
highest good drag after it a quality which neu- 
tralizes and discredits it ? — 

" Indeed, it takes 
From our achievements, when performed at height, 
The pith and marrow of our attribute." 


Shall we say, that the economical mother dis- 
burses so much earth and so much fire, by weight 
and metre, to make a man, and will not add a 
pennyweight, though a nation is perishing for a 
leader ? Therefore, the men of God purchased 
their science, by folly or pain. If you will have 
pure carbon, carbuncle, or diamond, to make the 
brain transparent, the trunk and organs shall be 
so much the grosser : instead of porcelain, they 
are potter's earth, clay, or mud. 

In modern times, no such remarkable example 
of this introverted mind has occurred, as in Eman- 
uel Swedenborg, born in Stockholm, in 1688. 
This man, who appeared to his contemporaries a 
visionary, and elixir of moonbeams, no doubt led 
the most real life of any man then in the world : 
and now, when the royal and ducal Frederics, 
Cristierns, and Brunswicks, of that day, have slid 
into oblivion, he begins to spread himself into the 
minds of thousands. As happens in great men, 
he seemed, by the variety and amount of his 
powers, to be a composition of several persons, — 
like the giant fruits which are matured in gardens 
by the union of four or five single blossoms. His 
frame is on a larger scale, and possesses the advan- 
tages of size. As it is easier to see the reflection 
of the great sphere in large globes, though de- 
faced by some crack or blemish, than in drops of 


water, so men of large calibre, though with some 
eccentricity or madness, like Pascal or Newton, 
help us more than balanced mediocre minds. 

His youth and training could not fail to be ex- 
traordinary. Such a boy could not whistle or 
dance, but goes grubbing into mines and moun- 
tains, prying into chemistry and optics, physiology, 
mathematics, and astronomy, to find images fit for 
the measure of his versatile and capacious brain. 
He was a scholar from a child, and was edu- 
cated at Upsala. At the age of twenty-eight, he 
was made Assessor of the Board of Mines, by 
Charles XII. In 1716, he left home for four 
years, and visited the universities of England, 
Holland, France, and Germany. He performed a 
notable feat of engineering in 1718, at the siege 
of Fredericshall, by hauling two galleys, five 
boats, and a sloop, some fourteen English miles 
overland, for the royal service. In 1721, he jour- 
neyed over Europe, to examine mines and smelting 
works. He published, in 1716, his Daedalus Hy- 
perboreus, and, from this time, for the next thirty 
years, was employed in the composition and pub- 
lication of his scientific works. With the like 
force, he threw himself into theology. In 1743, 
when he was fifty-four years old, what is called 
his illumination began. All his metallurgy, and 

transportation of ships overland, was absorbed into 


this ecstasy. He ceased to publish any more sci- 
entific books, withdrew from his practical labors, 
and devoted himself to the writing and publica- 
tion of his voluminous theological works, which 
were printed at his own expense, or at that of the 
Duke of Brunswick, or other prince, at Dresden, 
Leipsic, London, or Amsterdam. Later, he re- 
signed his office of Assessor : the salary attached 
to this office continued to be paid to him during 
his life. His duties had brought him into intimate 
acquaintance with King Charles XII., by whom 
he was much consulted and honored. The like 
favor was continued to him by his successor. At 
the Diet of 1751, Count Hopken says, the most 
solid memorials on finance were from his pen. In 
Sweden, he appears to have attracted a marked 
regard. His rare science and practical skill, and 
the added fame of second sight and extraordinary 
religious knowledge and gifts, drew to him queens, 
nobles, clergy, shipmasters, and people about the 
ports through which he was wont to pass in his 
many voyages. The clergy interfered a little 
with the importation and publication of his reli- 
gious works ; but he seems to have kept the 
friendship of men in power. He was never mar- 
ried. He had great modesty and gentleness of 
bearing. His habits were simple ; he lived on 
bread, milk, and vegetables ; he lived in a house 


situated in a large garden : he went several times 
to England, where he does not seem to have at- 
tracted any attention whatever from the learned 
or the eminent ; and died at London, March 29, 
1772, of apoplexy, in his eighty-fifth year. He 
is described, when in London, as a man of a quiet, 
clerical habit, not averse to tea and coffee, and 
kind to children. He wore a sword when in full 
velvet dress, and, whenever he walked out, carried 
a gold-headed cane. There is a common portrait 
of him in antique coat and wig, but the face has 
a wandering or vacant air. 

The genius which was to penetrate the science 
of the age with a far more subtle science ; to pass 
the bounds of space and time ; venture into the 
dim spirit-realm, and attempt to establish a new 
religion in the world, — began its lessons in quar- 
ries and forges, in the smelting-pot and crucible, 
in ship-yards and dissecting-rooms. No one man 
is perhaps able to judge of the merits of his works 
on so many subjects. One is glad to learn that 
his books on mines and metals are held in the 
highest esteem by those who understand these 
matters. It seems that he anticipated much sci- 
ence of the nineteenth century ; anticipated, in 
astronomy, the discovery of the seventh planet, — 
but, unhappily, not also of the eighth ; anticipated 
the views of modern astronomy in regard to the 


generation of earths by the sun : in magnetism, 
some important experiments and conclusions of 
later students ; in chemistry, the atomic theory ; 
in anatomy, the discoveries of Schlichting, Monro, 
and Wilson ; and first demonstrated the office of 
the lungs. His excellent English editor mag- 
nanimously lays no stress on his discoveries, since 
he was too great to care to be original ; and 
we are to judge, by what he can spare, of what 

A colossal soul, he lies vast abroad on his times, 
uncomprehended by them, and requires a long 
focal distance to be seen ; suggests, as Aristotle, 
Bacon, Selden, Humboldt, that a certain vastness 
of learning, or quasi omnipresence of the human 
soul in nature, is possible. His superb speculation, 
as from a tower, over nature and arts, without ever 
losing sight of the texture and sequence of things, 
almost realizes his own picture, in the " Principia," 
of the original integrity of man. Over and above 
the merit of his particular discoveries, is the capi- 
tal merit of his self-equality. A drop of water 
has the properties of the sea, but cannot exhibit a 
storm. There is beauty of a concert, as well as 
of a flute ; strength of a host, as well as of a 
hero ; and, in Swedenborg, those who are best 
acquainted with modern books will most admire 
the merit of mass. One of the missouriums and 


mastodons of literature, he is not to be measured 
by whole colleges of ordinary scholars. His stal- 
wart presence would nutter the gowns of an uni- 
versity. Our books are false by being fragmenta- 
ry : their sentences are bonmots, and not parts of 
natural discourse ; childish expressions of surprise 
or pleasure in nature ; or, worse, owing a brief 
notoriety to their petulance, or aversion from the 
order of nature, — being some curiosity or oddity, 
designedly not in harmony with nature, and pur- 
posely framed to excite surprise, as jugglers do 
by concealing their means. But Swedenborg is 
systematic, and respective of the world in every 
sentence : all the means are orderly given ; his 
faculties work with astronomic punctuality, and 
this admirable writing is pure from all pertness or 

Swedenborg was born into an atmosphere of 
great ideas. 'Tis hard to say what was his own : 
yet his life was dignified by noblest pictures of the 
universe. The robust Aristotelian method, with 
its breadth and adequateness, shaming our sterile 
and linear logic by its genial radiation, conversant 
with series and degree, with effects and ends, 
skilful to discriminate power from form, essence 
from accident, and opening, by its terminology 
and definition, high roads into nature, had trained 
a race of athletic philosophers. Harvey had 


shown the circulation of the blood : Gilbert had 
shown that the earth was a magnet : Descartes, 
taught by Gilbert's magnet, with its vortex, spiral, 
and polarity, had filled Europe with the leading 
thought of vortical motion, as the secret of nature. 
Newton, in the year in which Swedenborg was 
born, published the " Principia," and established 
the universal gravity. Malpighi, following the 
high doctrines of Hippocrates, Leucippus, and 
Lucretius, had given emphasis to the dogma that 
nature works in leasts, — " tota in minimis existit 
natura." Unrivalled dissectors, Swammerdam, 
Leeuwenhoek, Winslow, Eustachius, Heister, 
Vesalius, Boerhaave, had left nothing for scalpel 
or microscope to reveal in human or comparative 
anatomy : Linnaeus, his contemporary, was af- 
firming, in his beautiful science, that " Nature is 
always like herself: " and, lastly, the nobility of 
method, the largest application of principles, had 
been exhibited by Leibnitz and Christian Wolff, 
in cosmology ; whilst Locke and Grotius had 
drawn the moral argument. What was left for a 
genius of the largest calibre, but to go over their 
ground, and verify and unite ? It is easy to see, 
in these minds, the origin of Swedenborg's studies, 
and the suggestion of his problems. He had a 
capacity to entertain and vivify these volumes of 
thought. Yet the proximity of these geniuses, one 


or other of whom had introduced all his leading 
ideas, makes Swedenborg another example of the 
difficulty, even in a highly fertile genius, of 
proving originality, the first birth and annuncia- 
tion of one of the laws of nature. 

He named his favorite views, the doctrine of 
Forms, the doctrine of Series and Degrees, the 
doctrine of Influx, the doctrine of Correspondence. 
His statement of these doctrines deserves to be 
studied in his books. Not every man can read 
them, but they will reward him who can. His 
theologic works are valuable to illustrate these. 
His writings would be a sufficient library to a 
lonely and athletic student ; and the " Economy 
of the Animal Kingdom " is one of those books 
which, by the sustained dignity of thinking, is 
an honor to the human race. He had studied 
spars and metals to some purpose. His varied 
and solid knowledge makes his style lustrous 
with points and shooting spicula of thought, and 
resembling one of those winter mornings when 
the air sparkles with crystals. The grandeur of 
the topics makes the grandeur of the style. He 
was apt for cosmology, because of that native 
perception of identity which made mere size of 
no account to him. In the atom of magnetic 
iron, he saw the quality which would generate 
the spiral motion of sun and planet. 


The thoughts in which he lived were, the 
universality of each law in nature j the Platonic 
doctrine of the scale or degrees ; the version or 
conversion of each into other, and so the corre- 
spondence of all the parts ; the fine secret that 
little explains large, and large, little ; the central- 
ity of man in nature, and the connection that 
subsists throughout all things : he saw that the 
human body was strictly universal, or an instru- 
ment through which the soul feeds and is fed 
by the whole of matter : so* that he held, in 
exact antagonism to the skeptics, that, " the wiser 
a man is, the more will he be a worshipper of 
the Deity. 7 ' In short, he was a believer in the 
Identity-philosophy, which he held not idly, as 
the dreamers of Berlin or Boston, but which he 
experimented with and stablished through years 
of labor, with the heart and strength of the 
rudest Viking that his rough Sweden ever sent 
to battle. 

This theory dates from the oldest philosophers, 
and derives perhaps its best illustration from the 
newest. It is this : that nature iterates her 
means perpetually on successive planes. In the 
old aphorism, nature is always self-similar. In 
the plant, the eye or germinative point opens to 
a leaf, then to another leaf, with a power of 
transforming the leaf into radicle, stamen, pistil, 


petal, bract, sepal, or seed. The whole art of 
the plant is still to repeat leaf on leaf without 
end, the more or less of heat, light, moisture, 
and food, determining the form it shall assume. 
In the animal, nature makes a vertebra, or a spine 
of vertebras, and helps herself still by a new 
spine, with a limited power of modifying its 
form, — - spine on spine, to the end of the world. 
A poetic anatomist, in our own day, teaches that 
a snake, being a horizontal line, and man, being 
an erect line, constitute a right angle • and, be- 
tween the lines of this mystical quadrant, all 
animated beings find their place : and he assumes 
the hair-worm, the span-worm, or the snake, as 
the type or prediction of the spine. Manifestly, 
at the end of the spine, nature puts out smaller 
spines, as arms ; at the end of the arms, new spines, 
as hands ; at the other end, she repeats the process, 
as legs and feet. At the top of the column, she 
puts out another spine, which doubles or loops 
itself over, as a span-worm, into a ball, and forms 
the skull, with extremities again : the hands be- 
ing now the upper jaw, the feet the lower jaw, 
the fingers and toes being represented this time 
by upper and lower teeth. This new spine is 
destined to high uses. It is a new man on the 
shoulders of the last. It can almost shed its 
trunk, and manage to live alone, according to the 


Platonic idea in the Timeeus. Within it, on a 
higher plane, all that was done in the trunk re- 
peats itself. Nature recites her lesson once more 
in a higher mood. The mind is a finer body, 
and resumes its functions of feeding, digesting, 
absorbing, excluding, and generating, in a new 
and ethereal element. Here, in the brain, is all 
the process of alimentation repeated, in the ac- 
quiring, comparing, digesting, and assimilating 
of experience. Here again is the mystery of 
generation repeated. In the brain are male and 
female faculties : here is marriage, here is fruit. 
And there is no limit to this ascending scale, but 
series on series. Every thing, at the end of one 
use, is taken up into the next, each series punc- 
tually repeating every organ and process of the 
last. We are adapted to infinity. We are hard 
to please, and love nothing which ends : and in 
nature is no end ; but every thing, at the end of 
one use, is lifted into a superior, and the ascent 
of these things climbs into daemonic and celestial 
natures. Creative force, like a musical composer, 
goes on unweariedly repeating a simple air or 
theme, now high, now low, in solo, in chorus, 
ten thousand times reverberated, till it fills earth 
and heaven with the chant. 

Gravitation, as explained by Newton, is good . 
but grander, when we find chemistry only an ex- 


tension of the law of masses into particles, and 
that the atomic theory shows the action of chem- 
istry to be mechanical also. Metaphysics shows 
us a sort of gravitation, operative also in the men- 
tal phenomena ; and the terrible tabulation of the 
French statists brings every piece of whim and 
humor to be reducible also to exact numerical 
ratios. If one man in twenty thousand, or in 
thirty thousand, eats shoes, or marries his grand- 
mother, then, in every twenty thousand, or thirty 
thousand, is found one man who eats shoes, or 
marries his grandmother. What we call gravita- 
tion, and fancy ultimate, is one fork of a mightier 
stream, for which we have yet no name. Astron- 
omy is excellent ; but it must come up into life to 
have its fall value, and not remain there in globes 
and spaces. The globule of blood gyrates around 
its own axis in the human veins, as the planet in 
the sky ; and the circles of intellect relate to those 
of the heavens. Each law of nature has the like 
universality ; eating, sleep or hybernation, rota- 
tion, generation, metamorphosis, vortical motion, 
which is seen in eggs as in planets. These grand 
rhymes or returns in nature, — the dear, best-known 
face startling us at every turn, under a mask so 
unexpected that we think it the face of a stranger, 
and, carrying up the semblance into divine forms, — - 
delighted the prophetic eye of Swedenborg ; and 


he must be reckoned a leader in that revolution, 
which, by giving to science an idea, has given to 
an aimless accumulation of experiments, guidance 
and form, and a beating heart. 

I own, with some regret, that his printed works 
amount to about fifty stout octavos, his scientific 
works being about half of the whole number ; and 
it appears that a mass of manuscript still unedited 
remains in the royal library at Stockholm. The 
scientific works have just now been translated into 
English, in an excellent edition. 

Swedenborg printed these scientific books in the 
ten years from 1734 to 1744, and they remained 
from that time neglected : and now, after their 
century is complete, he has at last found a pupil 
in Mr. Wilkinson, in London, a philosophic critic, 
with a coequal vigor of understanding and imagi- 
nation comparable only to Lord Bacon's, who 
has produced his master's buried books to the day, 
and transferred them, with every advantage, from 
their forgotten Latin into English, to go round the 
world in our commercial and conquering tongue. 
This startling reappearance of Swedenborg, after 
a hundred years, in his pupil, is not the least re- 
markable fact in his history. Aided, it is said, by 
the munificence of Mr. Clissold, and also by his 
literary skill, this piece of poetic justice is done. 
The admirable preliminary discourses with which 


Mr. Wilkinson has enriched these volumes, throw 
all the cotemporary philosophy of England into 
shade, and leave me nothing to say on their proper 

The " Animal Kingdom " is a book of wonder- 
ful merits. It was written with the highest end, — 
to put science and the soul, long estranged from 
each other, at one again. It was an anatomist's 
account of the human body, in the highest style 
of poetry. Nothing can exceed the bold and bril- 
liant treatment of a subject usually so dry and 
repulsive. He saw nature " wreathing through 
an everlasting spiral, with wheels that never dry, 
on axes that never creak," and sometimes sought 
" to uncover those secret recesses where nature is 
sitting at the fires in the depths of her labora- 
tory ; " whilst the picture comes recommended by 
the hard fidelity with which it is based on practi- 
cal anatomy. It is remarkable that this sublime 
genius decides, peremptorily for the analytic, 
against the synthetic method ; and, in a book 
whose genius is a daring poetic synthesis, claims 
to confine himself to a rigid experience. 

He knows, if he only, the flowing of nature, 
and how wise was that old answer of Amasis to 
him who bade him drink up the sea, — " Yes, 
willingly, if you will stop the rivers that flow 
in." Few knew as much about nature and her 


subtle manners, or expressed more subtly her 
goings. He thought as large a demand is made 
on our faith by nature, as by miracles. " He 
noted that in her proceeding from first principles 
through her several subordinations, there was no 
state through which she did not pass, as if her 
path lay through ail things." " For as often as 
she betakes herself upward from visible phenom- 
ena, or, in other words, withdraws herself inward, 
she instantly, as it were, disappears, while no one 
knows what has become of her, or whither she 
is gone : so that it is necessary to take science as 
a guide in pursuing her steps." 

The pursuing the inquiry under the light of an 
end or final cause, gives wonderful animation, a 
sort of personality to the whole writing. This 
book announces his favorite dogmas. The 
ancient doctrine of Hippocrates, that the brain is 
a gland; and of Leucippus, that the atom may 
be known by the mass ; or, in Plato, the macro- 
cosm by the microcosm ; and, in the verses of 
Lucretius, — 

Ossa videlicet e pauxillis atque minutis 
Ossibus sic et de pauxillis atque minutis 
Visceribus viscus gigni, sanguenque creari 
Sanguinis inter se multis coeuntibus guttis ; 
Ex aurique putat micis consistere posse 
Aurum, et de terris terram concrescere parvis ; 
lgnibus ex igneis, humorem humoribus esse. 

Lib. L 835. 


" The principle of all things entrails made 

Of smallest entrails ; bone, of smallest bone ; 

Blood, of small sanguine drops reduced to one ; 

Gold, of small grains ; earth, of small sands compacted ; 

Small drops to water, sparks to fire contracted : " 

and which Malpighi had summed in his maxim, 
that "nature exists entire in leasts," — -is a favor- 
ite thought of Swedenborg. "It is a constant 
law of the organic body, that large, compound, or 
visible forms exist and subsist from smaller, sim- 
pler, and ultimately from invisible forms, which 
act similarly to the larger ones, but more perfectly 
and more universally j and the least forms so per- 
fectly and universally, as to involve an idea repre- 
sentative of their entire universe." The unities 
of each organ are so many little organs, homoge- 
neous with their compound : the unities of the 
tongue are little tongues ; those of the stomach, 
little stomachs ; those of the heart are little hearts. 
This fruitful idea furnishes a key to every secret. 
What was too small for the eye to detect was read 
by the aggregates ; what was too large, by the 
units. There is no end to his application of the 
thought. " Hunger is an aggregate of very many 
little hungers, or losses of blood by the little veins 
all over the body." It is a key to his theology, 
also. " Man is a kind of very minute heaven, 
corresponding to the world of spirits and to 


heaven. Every particular idea of man, and ev- 
ery affection, yea, every smallest part of his affec- 
tion, is an image and effigy of him. A spirit may 
be known from only a single thought. God is the 
grand man." 

The hardihood and thoroughness of his study 
of nature required a theory of forms, also. 
" Forms ascend in order from the loivest to the 
highest. The lowest form is angular, or the ter- 
restrial and corporeal. The second and next 
higher form is the circular, which is also called 
the perpetual-angular, because the circumference 
of a circle is a perpetual angle. The form above 
this is the spiral, parent and measure of circular 
forms : its diameters are not rectilinear, but vari- 
ously circular, and have a spherical surface for 
centre ; therefore it is called the perpetual-circu- 
lar. The form above this is the vortical, or per- 
petual-spiral : next, the perpetual-vortical, or ce- 
lestial : last, the perpetual-celestial, or spiritual." 

Was it strange that a genius so bold should 
take the last step, also, — conceive that he might 
attain the science of all sciences, to unlock the 
meaning of the world ? In the first volume of 
the "Animal Kingdom," he broaches the subject, 
in a remarkable note. — 

" In our doctrine of Representations and Cor- 
respondences, we shall treat of both these sym- 


bolical and typical resemblances, and of the aston- 
ishing things which occur, I will not say, in the 
living body only, but throughout nature, and 
which correspond so entirely to supreme and 
spiritual things, that one would swear that the 
physical world was purely symbolical of the spir- 
itual world ; insomuch, that if we choose to ex- 
press any natural truth in physical and definite 
vocal terms, and to convert these terms only into 
the corresponding and spiritual terms, we shall by 
this means elicit a spiritual truth, or theological 
dogma, in place of the physical truth or precept : 
although no mortal would have predicted that 
any thing of the kind could possibly arise by 
bare literal transposition ; inasmuch as the one 
precept, considered separately from the other, 
appears to have absolutely no relation to it. I 
intend, hereafter, to communicate a number of 
examples of such correspondences, together with 
a vocabulary containing the terms of spiritual 
things, as well as of the physical things for which 
they are to be substituted. This symbolism per- 
vades the living body." 

The fact, thus explicitly stated, is implied in 
all poetry, in allegory, in fable, in the use of em- 
blems, and in the structure of language. Plato 
knew of it, as is evident from his twice bisected 
line, in the sixth book of the Republic. Lord 


Bacon had found that truth and nature differed 
only as seal and print ; and he instanced some 
physical propositions, with their translation into a 
moral or political sense. Behmen, and all mys- 
tics, imply this law, in their dark riddle-writing. 
The poets, in as far as they are poets, use it ; but 
it is known to them only, as the magnet was 
known for ages, as a toy. Swedenborg first put 
the fact into a detached and scientific statement, 
because it was habitually present to him, and 
never not seen. It was involved, as we explained 
already, in the doctrine of identity and iteration, 
because the mental series exactly tallies with the 
material series. It required an insight that could 
rank things in order and series ; or, rather, it re- 
quired such Tightness of position, that the poles 
of the eye should coincide with the axis of the 
world. The earth had fed its mankind through 
five or six milleniums, and they had sciences, 
religions, philosophies ; and yet had failed to see 
the correspondence of meaning between every 
part and every other part. And, down to this 
hour, literature has no book in which the symbol- 
ism of things is scientifically opened. One would 
say, that, as soon as men had the first hint that 
every sensible object, — animal, rock, river, air, — 
nay, space and time, subsists not for itself, nor 
finally to a material end, but as a picture-language, 

swedenborg; or, the mystic. 119 

to tell another story of beings and duties, other 
science would be put by, and a science of such 
grand presage would absorb all faculties : that 
each man would ask of all objects, what they 
mean : Why does the horizon hold me fast, with 
my joy and grief, in this centre ? Why hear I 
the same sense from countless differing voices, 
and read one never quite expressed fact in endless- 
picture-language ? Yet, whether it be^that these 
things will not be intellectually learned, or, that 
many centuries must elaborate and compose so 
rare and opulent a soul, — -there is no comet, rock- 
stratum, fossil, fish, quadruped, spider, or fungus, 
that, for itself, does not interest more scholars 
and classifiers, than the meaning and upshot of 
the frame of things. 

But Swedenborg was not content with the 
culinary use of the world. In his fifty-fourth 
year, these thoughts held him fast, and his pro- 
found mind admitted the perilous opinion, too 
frequent in religious history, that he was an 
abnormal person, to whom was granted the privi- 
lege of conversing with angels and spirits ; and 
this ecstasy connected itself with just this office 
of explaining the moral import of the sensible 
world. To a right perception, at once broad and 
minute, of the order of nature, he added the 
comprehension of the moral laws in their widest 


social aspects ; but whatever he saw, through 
some excessive determination to form, in his con- 
stitution, he saw not abstractly, but in pictures, 
heard it in dialogues, constructed it in eventSv 
When he attempted to announce the law most 
sanely, he was forced to Couch it in parable. 

Modern psychology offers no similar example 
of a deranged balance. The principal powers 
continued to maintain a healthy action • and, to 
a reader who can make due allowance in the 
report for the reporter's peculiarities, the results 
are still instructive, and a more striking testimony 
to the sublime laws he announced, than any that 
balanced dulness could afford. He attempts to 
give some account of the modus of the new 
state, affirming that " his presence in the spiritual 
world is attended with a certain separation, but 
only as to the intellectual part of his mind, not 
as to the will part ; " and he affirms that "he 
sees, with the internal sight, the things that are 
in another life, more clearly than he sees the 
things which are here in the world." 

Having adopted the belief that certain books 
of the Old and New Testaments were exact 
allegories, or written in the angelic and ecstatic 
mode, he employed his remaining years in extri- 
cating from the literal, the universal sense. He 
had borrowed from Plato the fine fable of " a 


most ancient people, men better than we, and 
dwelling nigher to the gods ; " and Swedenborg 
added, that they used the earth symbolically j 
that these, when they saw terrestrial objects, did 
not think at all about them, but only about those 
which they signified. The correspondence be- 
tween thoughts and things henceforward occu- 
pied him. " The very organic form resembles 
the end inscribed on it." A man is in general, 
and in particular, an organized justice or injustice, 
selfishness or gratitude. And the cause of this 
harmony he assigned in the Arcana : " The rea- 
son why all and single things, in the heavens and 
on earth, are representative, is because they exist 
from an influx of the Lord, through heaven." 
This design of exhibiting such correspondences, 
which, if adequately executed, would be the 
poem of the world, in which all history and 
science would play an essential part, was nar- 
rowed and defeated by the exclusively theologic 
direction which his inquiries took. His percep- 
tion of nature is not human and universal, but is 
mystical and Hebraic. He fastens each natural 
object to a theologic notion; — a horse signifies 
carnal understanding ; a tree, perception ; the 
moon, faith ; a cat means this ; an ostrich, that ; 
an artichoke, this other ; and poorly tethers every 
symbol to a several ecclesiastic sense. The 


slippery Proteus is not so easily caught. In 
nature, each individual symbol plays innumerable 
parts, as each particle of matter circulates in turn 
through every system. The central identity 
enables any one symbol to express successively 
all the qualities and shades of real being. In 
the transmission of the heavenly waters, every 
hose fits every hydrant. Nature avenges herself 
speedily on the hard pedantry that would chain 
her waves. She is no literalist. Every thing 
must be taken genially, and we must be at the 
top of our condition, to understand any thing 

His theological bias thus fatally narrowed his 
interpretation of nature, and the dictionary of 
symbols is yet to be written. But the interpreter, 
whom mankind must still expect, will find no 
predecessor who has approached so near to the 
true problem. 

Swedenborg styles himself, in the title-page 
of his books, " Servant of the Lord Jesus Christ ; " 
and by force of intellect, and in effect, he is the 
last Father in the Church, and is not likely to 
have a successor. No wonder that his depth of 
ethical wisdom should give him influence as a 
teacher. To the withered traditional church 
yielding dry catechisms, he let in nature again, 
and the worshipper, escaping from the vestry of 

swedenborg; or, the mystic. 123 

verbs and texts, is surprised to find himself a 
party to the whole of his religion. His religion 
thinks for him, and is of universal application. 
He turns it on every side ; it fits every part of 
life, interprets and dignifies every circumstance. 
Instead of a religion which visited him diplomat- 
ically three or four times, — when he was born, 
when he married, when he fell sick, and when 
he died, and for the rest never interfered with 
him, — here was a teaching which accompanied 
him all day, accompanied him even into sleep 
and dreams ; into his thinking, and showed him 
through what a long ancestry his thoughts de- 
scend ; into society, and showed by what affin- 
ities he was girt to his equals and his counterparts ; 
into natural objects, and showed their origin and 
meaning, what are friendly, and what are hurtful ; 
and opened the future world, by indicating the 
continuity of the same laws. His disciples allege 
that their intellect is invigorated by the study of 
his books. 

There is no such problem for criticism as his 
theological writings, their merits are so command- 
ing ; yet such grave deductions must be made. 
Their immense and sandy diffuseness is like the 
prairie, or the desert, and their incongruities are 
like the last deiiration. He is superfluously ex- 
planatory, and his feeling of the ignorance of men, 


strangely exaggerated. Men take truths of this 
nature very fast. Yet he abounds in assertions : 
he is a rich discoverer, and of things which most 
import us to know. His thought dwells in essen- 
tial resemblances, like the resemblance of a 
house to the man who built it. He saw things 
in their law, in likeness of function, not of struc- 
ture. There is an invariable method and order in 
his delivery of his truth, the habitual proceeding 
of the mind from inmost to outmost. What ear- 
nestness and weightiness, — his eye never roving, 
without one swell of vanity, or one look to self, 
in any common form of literary pride ! a theoret- 
ic or speculative man, but whom no practical man 
in the universe could affect to scorn. Plato is a 
gownsman : his garment, though of purple, and 
almost sky-woven, is an academic robe, and hin- 
ders action with its voluminous folds. But this 
mystic is awful to Caesar. Lycurgus himself 
would bow. 

The moral insight of Swedenborg, the correc- 
tion of popular errors, the announcement of ethi- 
cal laws, take him out of comparison with any 
other modern writer, and entitle him to a place, 
vacant for some ages, among the lawgivers of 
mankind. That slow but commanding influence 
which he has acquired, like that of other reli- 
gious geniuses, must be excessive also, and have 


its tides, before it subsides into a permanent 
amount. Of course, what is real and universal 
cannot be confined to the circle of those who 
sympathize strictly with his genius, but will pass 
forth into the common stock of wise and just 
thinking. The world has a sure chemistry, by 
which it extracts what is excellent in its children, 
and lets fall the infirmities and limitations of the 
grandest mind. 

That metempsychosis which is familiar in the 
old mythology of the Greeks, collected in Ovid, 
and in the Indian Transmigration, and is there 
objective, or really takes place in bodies by alien 
will, — in Swedenborg's mind, has a more philo- 
sophic character. It is subjective, or depends 
entirely upon the thought of the person. All 
things in the universe arrange themselves to each 
person anew, according to his ruling love. Man 
is such as his affection and thought are. Man is 
man by virtue of willing, not by virtue of know- 
ing and understanding. As he is, so he sees. 
The marriages of the world are broken up. In- 
teriors associate all in the spiritual world. What- 
ever the angels looked upon was to them celestial. 
Each Satan appears to himself a man ; to those 
as bad as he, a comely man ; to the purified, a 
heap of carrion. Nothing can resist states : 
every thing gravitates : like will to like : what 


we call poetic justice takes effect on the spot. 
We have come into a world which is a living 
poem. Every thing is as I am. Bird and beast 
is not bird and beast, but emanation and effluvia 
of the minds and wills of men there present. 
Every one makes his own house and state. The 
ghosts are tormented with the fear of death, and 
cannot remember that they have died. They 
who are in evil and falsehood are afraid of all 
others. Such as have deprived themselves of 
charity, wander and nee : the societies which 
they approach discover their quality, and drive 
them away. The covetous seem to themselves 
to be abiding in cells where their money is 
deposited, and these to be infested with mice. 
They who place merit in good works seem to 
themselves to cut wood. u I asked such, if 
they were not wearied ? They replied, that 
they have not yet done work enough to merit 

He delivers golden sayings, which express with 
singular beauty the ethical laws ; as when he 
uttered that famed sentence, that, "in heaven 
the angels are advancing continually to the 
spring-time of their youth, so that the oldest 
angel appears the youngest : " " The more angels, 
the more room : " " The perfection of man is 
the love of use : " " Man, in his perfect form, is 

swedenboeg; or, the mystic. 127 

heaven : " " What is from Him, is Him : " " Ends 
always ascend as nature descends : " And the 
truly poetic account of the writing in the inmost 
heaven, which, as it consists of inflexions accord- 
ing to the form of heaven, can be read without 
instruction. He almost justifies his claim to 
preternatural vision, by strange insights of the 
structure of the human body and mind. "It is 
never permitted to any one, in heaven, to stand 
behind another and look at the back of his head : 
for then the influx which is from the Lord is 
disturbed." The angels, from the sound of the 
voice, know a man's love ; from the articulation 
of the sound, his wisdom ; and from the sense 
of the words, his science. 

In the " Conjugal Love," he has unfolded the 
science of marriage. Of this book, one would 
say, that, with the highest elements, it has failed 
of success. It came near to be the Hymn of 
Love, which Plato attempted in the " Banquet ; " 
the love, which, Dante says, Casella sang among 
the angels in Paradise ; and which, as rightly 
celebrated, in its genesis, fruition, and effect, 
might well entrance the souls, as it would lay 
open the genesis of all institutions, customs, and 
manners. The book had been grand, if the He- 
braism had been omitted, and the law stated with- 
out Gothicism, as ethics, and with that scope for 


ascension of state which the nature of things re- 
quires. It is a fine Platonic development of the 
science of marriage ; teaching that sex is univer- 
sal, and not local ; virility in the male qualifying 
every organ, act, and thought ; and the feminine 
in woman. Therefore, in the real or spiritual 
world, the nuptial union is not momentary, but 
incessant and total ; and chastity not a local, but 
a universal virtue ; unchastity being discovered as 
much in the trading, or planting, or speaking, or 
philosophizing, as in generation ; and that, though* 
the virgins he saw in heaven were beautiful, the 
wives were incomparably more beautiful, and 
went on increasing in beauty evermore. 

Yet Swedenborg, after his mode, pinned his 
theory to a temporary form. He exaggerates the 
circumstance of marriage ; and, though he finds 
false marriages on earth, fancies a wiser choice in 
heaven. But of progressive souls, all loves and 
friendships are momentary. Do yon love me ? 
means, Do you see the same truth ? If you do, 
we are happy with the same happiness : but pres- 
ently one of us passes into the perception of new 
truth ; — we are divorced, and no tension in nature 
can hold us to each other. I know how delicious 
is this cup of love, — I existing for you, you ex- 
isting for me ; but it is a child's clinging to his 
toy ; an attempt to eternize the fireside and nup- 

swedenborg; or, the mystic. 129 

tial chamber ; to keep the picture-alphabet through 
which our first lessons are prettily conveyed. 
The Eden of God is bare and grand : like the 
out-door landscape, remembered from the evening 
fireside, it seems cold and desolate, whilst you 
cower over the coals ; but, once abroad again, we 
pity those who can forego the magnificence of 
nature, for candle-light and cards. Perhaps the 
true subject of the " Conjugal Love" is Conver- 
sation, whose laws are profoundly eliminated. It 
is false, if literally applied to marriage. For God 
is the bride or bridegroom of the soul. Heaven 
is not the pairing of two, but the communion of 
all souls. We meet, and dwell an instant under 
the temple of one thought, and part as though we 
parted not, to join another thought in other fel- 
lowships of joy. So far from there being any 
thing divine in the low and proprietary sense of 
Do you love me ? it is only when you leave and 
lose me, by casting yourself on a sentiment which 
is higher than both of us, that I draw near, and 
find myself at your side ; and I am repelled, if 
you fix your eye on me, and demand love. In 
fact, in the spiritual world, we change sexes 
every moment. You love the worth in me ; then 
I am your husband : but it is not me, but the 
worth, that fixes the love ; and that worth is a 
drop of the ocean of worth that is beyond me. 


Meantime, I adore the greater worth in another, 
and so become his wife. He aspires to a higher 
worth in another spirit, and is wife or receiver of 
that influence. 

Whether a self-inquisitorial habit, that he grew 
into, from jealousy of the sins to which men of 
thought are liable, he has acquired, in disentan- 
gling and demonstrating that particular form of 
moral disease, an acumen which no conscience 
can resist. I refer to his feeling of the profanation 
of thinking to what is good "from scientifics." 
" To reason about faith, is to doubt and deny." 
He was painfully alive to the difference between 
knowing and doing, and this sensibility is inces- 
santly expressed. Philosophers are, therefore, 
vipers, cockatrices, asps, hemorrhoids, presters, 
and flying serpents ; literary men are conjurors 
and charlatans. 

But this topic suggests a sad afterthought, that 
here we find the seat of his own pain. Possibly 
Swedenborg paid the penalty of introverted fac- 
ulties. Success, or a fortunate genius, seems to 
depend on a happy adjustment of heart and brain ; 
on a due proportion, hard to hit, of moral and 
mental power, which, perhaps, obeys the law of 
those chemical ratios which make a proportion in 
volumes necessary to combination, as when gases 


will combine in certain fixed rates, but not at any 
rate. It is hard to carry a full Gup : and this man^ 
profusely endowed in heart and mind, early fell into 
dangerous discord with himself. In his Animal 
Kingdom, he surprised us, by declaring that he 
loved analysis, and not synthesis ; and now, after 
his fiftieth year, he falls into jealousy of his intel- 
lect ; and, though aware that truth is not solitary 5 
nor is goodness solitary, but both must ever mix 
and marry, he makes war on his mind, takes the 
part of the conscience against it, and, on all occa- 
sions, traduces and blasphemes it. The violence 
is instantly avenged. Beauty is disgraced, love 
is unlovely, when truth, the half part of heaven, 
is denied, as much as when a bitterness in men 
of talent leads to satire, and destroys the judgment. 
He is wise, but wise in his own despite. There 
is an air of infinite grief, and the sound of wail- 
ing, all over and through this lurid universe. A 
vampyre sits in the seat of the prophet, and turns 
with gloomy appetite to the images of pain. In- 
deed, a bird does not more readily weave its nest, 
or a mole bore into the ground, than this seer of 
the souls substructs a new hell and pit, each more 
abominable than the last, round every new crew 
of offenders. He was let down through a column 
that seemed of brass, but it was formed of an- 
gelic spirits, that he might descend safely amongst 


the unhappy, and witness the vastation of souls ; 
and heard there, for a long continuance, their 
lamentations ; he saw their tormentors, who in- 
crease and strain pangs to infinity ; he saw the 
hell of the jugglers, the hell of the assassins, the 
hell of the lascivious ; the hell of robbers, who 
kill and boil men ; the infernal tun of the deceit- 
ful ; the excrementitious hells ; the hell of the 
revengeful, whose faces resembled a round, broad 
cake, and their arms rotate like a wheel. Except 
Rabelais and Dean Swift, nobody ever had such 
science of filth and corruption. 

These books should be used with caution. It 
is dangerous to sculpture these evanescing images 
of thought. True in transition, they become 
false if fixed. It requires, for his just apprehen- 
sion, almost a genius equal to his own. But when 
his visions become the stereotyped language of 
multitudes of persons, of all degrees of age and 
capacity, they are perverted. The wise people 
of the Greek race were accustomed to lead the 
most intelligent and virtuous young men, as part, 
of their education, through the Eleusinian mys- 
teries, wherein, with much pomp and graduation, 
the highest truths known to ancient wisdom were 
taught. An ardent and contemplative young man, 
at eighteen or twenty years, might read once 
these books of Swedenborg, these mysteries of 


love and conscience, and then throw them aside 
for ever. Genius is ever haunted by similar 
dreams, when the hells and the heavens are 
opened to it. But these pictures are to be held 
as mystical, that is, as a quite arbitrary and acci- 
dental picture of the truth, — not as the truth. 
Any other symbol would be as good : then this 
is safely seen. 

Swedenborg's system of the world %vants cen- 
tral spontaneity j it is dynamic, not vital, and 
lacks power to generate life, There is no indi- 
vidual in it. The universe is a gigantic crystal, 
all whose atoms and laminae lie in uninterrupted 
order, and with unbroken unity, but cold and 
still. What seems an individual and a will, is 
none. There is an immense chain of inter- 
mediation, extending from centre to extremes, 
which bereaves every agency of all freedom and 
character. The universe, in his poem, suffers 
under a magnetic sleep, and only reflects the 
mind of the magnetizer. Every thought comes 
into each mind by influence from a society of 
spirits that surround it, and into these from a 
higher society, and so on. All his types mean the 
same few things. All his figures speak one 
speech. All his interlocutors Swedenborgise, 
Be they who they may, to this complexion must 


they come at last. This Charon ferries them all 
over in his boat ; kings, counsellors, cavaliers, doc- 
tors, Sir Isaac Newton, Sir Hans Sloane, King 
George II., Mahomet, or whosoever, and all gather 
one grimness of hue and style. Only when Cicero 
comes by, our gentle seer sticks a little at saying 
he talked with Cicero, and, with a touch of 
human relenting, remarks, " one whom it was 
given me to believe was Cicero ; " and when the 
soi disant Roman opens his mouth, Rome and 
eloquence have ebbed away, — it is plain the- 
ologic Swedenborg, like the rest. His heavens 
and hells are dull ; fault of want of individualism. 
The thousand-fold relation of men is not there. 
The interest that attaches in nature to each man, 
because he is right by his wrong, and wrong by 
his right, because he defies all dogmatising and 
classification, so many allowances, and contin- 
gences, and futurities, are to be taken into ac- 
count, strong by his vices, often paralysed by his 
virtues, — sinks into entire sympathy with his 
society. This want reacts to the centre of the 
system. Though the agency of " the Lord " is 
in every line referred to by name, it never 
becomes alive. There is no lustre in that eye 
which gazes from the centre, and which should 
vivify the immense dependency of beings. 

The vice of Swedenborg's mind is its theologic 


determination. Nothing with him has the liberal- 
ity of universal wisdom, but we are always in a 
church. That Hebrew muse, which taught the 
lore of right and wrong to men, had the same 
excess of influence for him, it has had for the 
nations. The mode, as well as the essence, was 
sacred. Palestine is ever the more valuable as a 
chapter in universal history, and ever the less an 
available element in education. The genius of 
Swedenborg, largest of all modern souls in this 
department of thought, wasted itself in the 
endeavor to reanimate and conserve what had 
already arrived at its natural term, and, in the 
great secular Providence, was retiring from its 
prominence, before western modes of thought 
and expression. Swedenborg and Behmen both 
failed by attaching themselves to the Christian 
symbol, instead of to the moral sentiment, which 
carries innumerable Christianities, humanities, 
divinities, in its bosom. 

The excess of influence shows itself in the 
incongruous inportation of a foreign rhetoric. 
'What have I to do,' asks the impatient reader, 
' with jasper and sardonyx, beryl and chalcedony ; 
what with arks and passovers, ephahs and 
ephods ; what with lepers and emerods ; what 
with heave-offerings and unleavened bread ; 
chariots of fire, dragons crowned and horned, 


behemoth and unicorn ? Good for orientals, these 
are nothing to me. The more learning you bring 
to explain them, the more glaring the imper- 
tinence. The more coherent and elaborate the 
system, the less I like it. I say, with the Spartan, 
" Why do you speak so much to the purpose, of 
that which is nothing to the purpose ? " My learn- 
ing is such as God gave me in my birth and habit, 
in the delight and study of my eyes, and not of 
another man's. Of all absurdities, this of some 
foreigner, proposing to take away my rhetoric, 
and substitute his own, and amuse me with peli- 
can and stork, instead of thrush and robin ; palm- 
trees and shittim-wood, instead of sassafras and 
hickory, — seems the most needless.' 

Locke said, " God, when he makes the prophet, 
does not unmake the man." Swedenborg's his- 
tory points the remark. The parish disputes, in 
the Swedish church, between the friends and foes 
of Luther and Melancthon, concerning " faith 
alone," and "works alone," intrude themselves 
into his speculations upon the economy of the 
universe, and of the celestial societies. The 
Lutheran bishop's son, for whom the heavens are 
opened, so that he sees with eyes, and in the rich- 
est symbolic forms, the awful truth of things, and 
utters again, in his books, as under a heavenly 
mandate, the indisputable secrets of moral nature, 


— with all these grandeurs resting upon him, re- 
mains the Lutheran bishop's son ; his judgments 
are those of a Swedish polemic, and his vast en- 
largements purchased by adamantine limitations. 
He carries his controversial memory with him, in 
his visits to the souls. He is like Michel Angelo, 
who, in his frescoes, put the cardinal who had 
offended him to roast under a mountain of devils ; 
or, like Dante, who avenged, in vindictive melo- 
dies, all his private wrongs ; or, perhaps still more 
like Montaigne's parish priest, who, if a hail-storm 
passes over the village, thinks the day of doom is 
come, and the cannibals already have got the pip. 
Swedenborg confounds us not less with the pains 
of Melancthon, and Luther, and Wolfius, and his 
own books, which he advertises among the angels. 
Under the same theologic cramp, many of his 
dogmas are bound. His cardinal position in 
morals is, that evils should be shunned as sins. 
But he does not know what evil is, or what good 
is, who thinks any ground remains to be occupied, 
after saying that evil is to be shunned as evil. I 
doubt not he was led by the desire to insert the 
element of personality of Deity. But nothing is 
added. One man, you say, dreads erysipelas, — 
show him that this dread is evil : or, one dreads 
hell, — show him that dread is evil. He who 
loves goodness, harbors angels, reveres reverence, 


and lives with God. The less we have to do with 
our sins, the better. No man ean afford to waste 
his moments in compunctions. " That is active 
duty," say the Hindoos, "which is not for our 
bondage ; that is knowledge, which is for our lib- 
eration : all other duty is good only unto weari- 

Another dogma, growing out of this pernicious 
theologic limitation, is this Inferno. Swedenborg 
has devils. Evil, according to old philosophers, 
is good in the making. That pure malignity can 
exist, is the extreme proposition of unbelief. It 
is not to be entertained by a rational agent ; it is 
atheism ; it is the last profanation. Euripides 
rightly said, — 

*' Goodness and being in the gods are one ; 

He who imputes ill to them makes them none." 

To what a painful perversion had Gothic the- 
ology arrived, that Swedenborg admitted no con- 
version for evil spirits! But the divine effort is 
never relaxed ; the carrion in the sun will convert 
itself to grass and flowers : and man, though in 
brothels, or jails, or on gibbets, is on his way to 
all that is good and true. Burns, with the wild 
humor of his apostrophe to " poor old Nickie Ben," 

" O wad ye tak a thought, and mend ! " 

swedenborg; or, the mystic. 139 

has the advantage of the vindictive theologian. 
Every thing is superficial, and perishes, but love 
and truth only. The largest is always the truest 
sentiment, and we feel the more generous spirit 
of the Indian Vishnu, — " 1 am the same to all 
mankind. There is not one who is worthy of my 
love or hatred. They who serve me with adora- 
tion, — I am in them, and they in me. If one 
whose ways are altogether evil, serve me alone, he 
is as respectable as the just man ; he is altogether 
well employed ; he soon becometh of a virtuous 
spirit, and obtaineth eternal happiness." 

For the anomalous pretension of Revelations 
of the other world, — only his probity and genius 
can entitle it to any serious regard. His revela- 
tions destroy their credit by running into detail. 
If a man say, that the Holy Ghost has informed 
him that the Last Judgment, (or the last of the 
judgments,) took place in 1757; or, that the 
Dutch, in the other world, live in a heaven by 
themselves, and the English, in a heaven by 
themselves ; I reply, that the Spirit which is 
holy, is reserved, taciturn, and deals in laws. 
The rumors of ghosts and hobgoblins gossip 
and tell fortunes. The teachings of the high 
Spirit are abstemious, and, in regard to particu- 
lars, negative. Socrates's Genius did not advise 
him to act or to find, but if he purposed to do 


somewhat not advantageous, it dissuaded him. 
"What God is," he said, "I know not; what he 
is not, I know." The Hindoos have denominated 
the Supreme Being, the " Internal Check." The 
illuminated Quakers explained their Light, not as 
somewhat which leads to any action, but it ap- 
pears as an obstruction to any thing unfit. But 
the right examples are private experiences, which 
are absolutely at one on this point. Strictly 
speaking, Swedenborg's revelation is a confound- 
ing of planes, — a capital offence in so learned 
a categorist. This is to carry the law of surface 
into the plane of substance, to carry individual- 
ism and its fopperies into the realm of essences 
and generals, which is dislocation and chaos. 

The secret of heaven is kept from age to age. 
No imprudent, no sociable angel ever dropt an 
early syllable to answer the longings of saints, 
the fears of mortals. We should have listened 
on our knees to any favorite, who, by stricter 
obedience, had brought his thoughts into parallel- 
ism with the celestial currents, and could hint to 
human ears the scenery and circumstance of the 
newly parted soul. But it is certain that it must 
tally with what is best in nature. It must not 
be inferior in tone to the already known works 
of the artist who sculptures the globes of the 
firmament, and writes the moral law. It must 


be fresher than rainbows, stabler than mountains, 
agreeing with flowers, with tides, and the rising 
and setting of autumnal stars. Melodious poets 
shall be hoarse as street ballads, when once the 
penetrating key-note of nature and spirit is 
sounded, — the earth-beat, sea-beat, heart-beat, 
which makes the tune to which the sun rolls, 
and the globule of blood, and the sap of trees. 

In this mood, we hear the rumor that the seer 
has arrived, and his tale is told. But there is no 
beauty, no heaven : for angels, goblins. The 
sad muse loves night and death, and the pit. 
His Inferno is mesmeric. His spiritual world 
bears the same relation to the generosities and 
joys of truth, of which human souls have already 
made us cognisant, as a man's bad dreams bear to 
his ideal life. It is indeed very like, in its end- 
less power of lurid pictures, to the phenomena 
of dreaming, which nightly turns many an honest 
gentleman, benevolent, but dyspeptic, into a 
wretch, skulking like a dog about the outer yards 
and kennels of creation. When he mounts into 
the heaven, I do not hear its language. A man 
should not tell me that he has walked among the 
angels ; his proof is, that his eloquence makes 
me one. Shall the archangels be less majestic 
and sweet than the figures that have actually 
walked the earth? These angels that Sweden- 


borg paints give us no very high idea of their 
discipline and culture : they are all country par- 
sons : their heaven is a fete champetre, an evan- 
gelical picnic, or French distribution of prizes 
to virtuous peasants. Strange, scholastic, didac- 
tic, passionless, bloodless man, who denotes classes 
of souls as a botanist disposes of a carex, and 
visits doleful hells as a stratum of chalk or horn- 
blende ! He has no sympathy. He goes up and 
down the world of men, a modern Rhadaman- 
thus in gold-headed cane and peruke, and with 
nonchalance, and the air of a referee, distributes 
souls. The warm, many-weathered, passionate- 
peopled world is to him a grammar of hiero- 
glyphs, or an emblematic freemason's procession. 
How different is Jacob Behmen ! he is tremulous 
with emotion, and listens awe-struck, with the 
gentlest humanity, to the Teacher whose lessons 
he conveys ; and when he asserts that, " in some 
sort, love is greater than God," his heart beats so 
high that the thumping against his leathern coat 
is audible across the centuries. 7 Tis a great 
difference. Behmen is healthily and beautifully 
wise, notwithstanding the mystical narrowness 
and incommunicableness. Swedenborg is dis- 
agreeably wise, and, with all his accumulated 
gifts, paralyzes and repels. 

It is the best sign of a great nature, that it 


opens a foreground, and, like the breath of morn- 
ing landscapes, invites us onward. Swedenborg 
is retrospective, nor can we divest him of his 
mattock and shroud. Some minds are for ever 
restrained from descending into nature ; others 
are for ever prevented from ascending out of it. 
With a force of many men, he could never break 
the umbilical cord which held him to ^.nature, and 
he did not rise to the platform of pure genius. 

It is remarkable that this man, who, by his per- 
ception of symbols, saw the poetic construction 
of things, and the primary relation of mind to 
matter, remained entirely devoid of the whole 
apparatus of poetic expression, which that percep- 
tion creates. He knew the grammar and rudiments 
of the Mother-Tongue, — how could he not read off 
one strain into music ? Was he like Saadi, who, 
in his vision, designed to fill his lap with the ce- 
lestial flowers, as presents for his friends ; but the 
fragrance of the roses so intoxicated him, that the 
skirt dropped from his hands ? or, is reporting a 
breach of the manners of that heavenly society ? 
or, was it that he saw the vision intellectually, and 
hence that chiding of the intellectual that per- 
vades his books ? Be it as it may, his books have 
no melody, no emotion, no humor, no relief to the 
dead prosaic level. In his profuse and accurate 
imagery is no pleasure, for there is no beauty. 


We wander forlorn in a lack-lustre landscape. 
No bird ever sang in all these gardens of the dead. 
The entire want of poetry in so transcendent 
a mind betokens the disease, and, like a hoarse 
voice in a beautiful person, is a kind of warning. 
I think, sometimes, he will not be read longer. 
His great name will turn a sentence. His books 
have become a monument. His laurel so largely 
mixed with cypress, a charnel-breath so mingles 
with the temple incense, that boys and maids will 
shun the spot. 

Yet, in this immolation of genius and fame at 
the shrine of conscience, is a merit sublime beyond 
praise. He lived to purpose : he gave a verdict. 
He elected goodness as the clue to which the soul 
must cling in all this labyrinth of nature. Many 
opinions conflict as to the true centre. In the 
shipwreck, some cling to running rigging, some 
to cask and barrel, some to spars, some to mast ; 
the pilot chooses with science, — I plant myself 
here ; all will sink before this ; " he comes to land 
who sails with me." Do not rely on heavenly 
favor, or on compassion to folly, or on prudence, 
on common sense, the old usage and main chance 
of men: nothing can keep you, — not fate, nor 
health, nor admirable intellect ; none can keep you, 
but rectitude only, rectitude for ever and ever ! — 
and, with a tenacity that never swerved in all his 


studies, inventions, dreams, he adheres to this 
brave choice. I think of him as of some trans- 
migrating votary of Indian legend, who says, 
1 though I be dog, or jackal, or pismire, in the last 
rudiments of nature, under what integument or 
ferocity, I cleave to right, as the sure ladder that 
leads up to man and to God.' 

Swedenborg has rendered a double service to 
mankind, which is now only beginning to be 
known. By the science of experiment and use, 
he made his first steps : he observed and published 
the laws of nature ; and, ascending by just de- 
grees, from events to their summits and causes, he 
was fired with piety at the harmonies he felt, and 
abandoned himself to his joy and worship. This 
was his first service. If the glory was too bright 
for his eyes to bear, if he staggered under the 
trance of delight, the more excellent is the spec- 
tacle he saw, the realities of being which beam 
and blaze through him, and which no infirmities 
of the prophet are suffered to obscure ; and he 
renders a second passive service to men, not less 
than the first, — perhaps, in the great circle of 
being, and in the retributions of spiritual nature, 
not less glorious or less beautiful to himself. 






Every fact is related on one side to sensation, 
and, on the other, to morals. The game of 
thought is, on the appearance of one of these 
two sides, to find the other ; given the upper, to 
find the under side. Nothing so thin, but has 
these two faces ; and, when the observer has seen 
the obverse, he turns it over to see the reverse. 
Life is a pitching of this penny, — heads or tails. 
We never tire of this game, because there is still 
a slight shudder of astonishment at the exhibition 
of the other face, at the contrast of the two faces. 
A man is flushed with success, and bethinks hin> 
self what this good luck signifies. He drives his 
bargain in the street ; but it occurs, that he also 
is bought and sold. He sees the beauty of a 
human face, and searches the cause of that 
beauty, which must be more beautiful. He 
builds his fortunes, maintains the laws, cherishes 


his children ; but he asks himself, why ? and 
whereto ? This head and this tail are called, in 
the language of philosophy, Infinite and Finite ; 
Relative and Absolute ; Apparent and Real ; and 
many fine names beside. 

Each man is born with a predisposition to one 
or the other of these sides of nature ; and, it will 
easily happen that men will be found devoted to 
one or the other. One class has the perception 
of difference, and is conversant with facts and 
surfaces ; cities and persons ; and the bringing 
certain things to pass ; — the men of talent and 
action. Another class have the perception of 
identity, and are men of faith and philosophy, 
men of genius. 

Each of these riders drives too fast. Plotinus 
believes only in philosophers ; Fenelon, in saints ; 
Pindar and Byron, in poets. Read the haughty 
language in which Plato and the Platonists speak 
of all men who are not devoted to their own 
shining abstractions : other men are rats and 
mice. The literary class is usually proud and 
exclusive. The correspondence of Pope and 
Swift describes mankind around them as mon- 
sters ; and that of Goethe and Schiller, in our 
own time, is scarcely more kind. 

It is easy to see how this arrogance comes. 
The genius is a genius by the first look he casts 


on any object. Is his eye creative ? Does he 
not rest in angles and colors, but beholds the 
design, — he will presently undervalue the actual 
object. In powerful moments, his thought has 
dissolved the works of art and nature into their 
causes, so that the works appear heavy and 
faulty. He has a conception of beauty which 
| the sculptor cannot embody. Picture, statue, 
/ temple, railroad, steam-engine, existed first in an 
/ artist's mind, without flaw, mistake, or friction, 
which impair the executed models. So did the 
church, the state, college, court, social circle, and 
all the institutions. It is not strange that these 
men, remembering what they have seen and 
hoped of ideas, should affirm disdainfully the 
superiority of ideas. Having at some time seen 
that the happy soul will carry all the arts in 
power, they say, Why cumber ourselves with 
superfluous realizations ? and, like dreaming beg- 
gars, they assume to speak and act as if these 
values were already substantiated. 

On the other part, the men of toil and trade 
and luxury, — the animal world, including the 
animal in the philosopher and poet also, — and 
the practical world, including the painful drudg- 
eries which are never excused to philosopher or 
poet any more than to the rest, — weigh heavily on 
the other side. The trade in our streets believes 


in no metaphysical causes, thinks nothing of 
the force which necessitated traders and a trading 
planet to exist : no, but sticks to cotton, sugar, 
wool, and salt. The ward meetings, on election 
days, are not softened by any misgiving of the 
value of these ballotings. Hot life is streaming 
in a single direction. To the men of this world, to 
the animal strength and spirits, to the men of 
practical power, whilst immersed in it, the man 
of ideas appears out of his reason. They alone 
have reason. 

Things always bring their own philosophy 
with them, that is, prudence. No man acquires 
property without acquiring with it a little arith- 
metic, also. In England, the richest country that 
ever existed, property stands for more, compared 
with personal ability, than in any other. After 
dinner, a man believes less, denies more : verities 
have lost some charm. After dinner, arithmetic 
is the only science : ideas are disturbing, incendi- 
ary, follies of young men, repudiated by the solid 
portion of society : and a man comes to be val- 
ued by his athletic and animal qualities. Spence 
relates, that Mr. Pope was with Sir Godfrey 
Kneller, one day, when his nephew, a Guinea 
trader, came in. " Nephew," said Sir Godfrey, 
" you have the honor of seeing the two greatest 
men in the world." "I don't know how great 


men you may be," said the Guinea man, "but I 
don't like your looks. I have often bought a 
man much better than both of you, all muscles 
and bones, for ten guineas." Thus, the men of 
the senses revenge themselves on the professors, 
and repay scorn for scorn. The first had leaped 
to conclusions not yet ripe, and say more than is 
true ; the others make themselves merry with the 
philosopher, and weigh man by the pound. — ■ 
They believe that mustard bites the tongue, 
that pepper is hot, friction-matches are incendiary > 
revolvers to be avoided, and suspenders hold up 
pantaloons ; that there is much sentiment in a 
chest of tea ; and a man will be eloquent, if you 
give him good wine. Are you tender and scru- 
pulous, — you must eat more mince-pie. They 
hold that Luther had milk in him when he said, 

""Wer nieht liebt "Wein, Wei^und Gesang, 
Der bleibt ein. Narr sein Leben lang ; " 

and when he advised a young scholar, perplexed 
with fore-ordination and free-will, to get well 
drunk. " The nerves," says Cabanis, " they are 
the man." My neighbor, a jolly farmer, in the 
tavern bar-room, thinks that the use of money 
is sure and speedy spending. " For his part," 
he says, "he puts his down his neck, and gets 
the good of it." 


The inconvenience of this way of thinking is, 
that it runs into indifferentism, and then into 
disgust. Life is eating us up. We shall be 
fables presently. Keep cool : it will be all one 
a hundred years hence. Life's well enough ; but 
we shall be glad to get out of it, and they will 
all be glad to have us. Why should we fret and 
drudge ? Our meat will taste to-morrow as it 
did yesterday, and we may at last have had 
enough of it. "Ah," said my languid gentle- 
man at Oxford, " there's nothing new or true, — 
and no matter." 

With a little more bitterness, the cynic moans : 
our life is like an ass led to market by a bundle 
of hay being carried before him : he sees nothing 
but the bundle of hay. " There is so much 
trouble in coming into the world," said Lord 
Bolingbroke, "and so much more, as well as 
meanness, in going out of it, that 'tis hardly 
worth while to be here at all." I knew a phi- 
losopher of this kidney, who was accustomed 
briefly to sum up his experience of human nature 
in saying, " Mankind is a damned rascal : " and 
the natural corollary is pretty sure to follow, — 
i The world lives by humbug, and so will I.' 

The abstractionist and the materialist thus 
mutually exasperating each other, and the scoffer 
expressing the worst of materialism, there arises 


a third party to occupy the middle ground be- 
tween these two, the skeptic, namely. He finds 
both wrong by being in extremes. He labors 
to plant his feet, to be the beam of the balance. 
He will not go beyond his card. He sees the 
one-sidedness of these men of the street ; he will 
not be a Gibeonite ; he stands for the intellectual 
faculties, a cool head, and whatever serves to 
keep it cool : no unadvised industry, no unre- 
warded self-devotion, no loss of the brains in toil. 
Am I an ox, or a dray ? — You are both in ex- 
tremes, he says. You that will have all solid, 
and a world of pig-lead, deceive yourselves gross- 
ly. You believe yourselves rooted and grounded 
on adamant ,* and yet, if we uncover the last facts 
of our knowledge, you are spinning like bubbles 
in a river, you know not whither or whence, and 
you are bottomed and capped and wrapped in 

Neither will he be betrayed to a book, andTN 
wrapped in a gown. The studious class are their 
own victims : they are thin and pale, their feet 
are cold, their heads are hot, the night is without 
sleep, the day a fear of interruption, — pallor, 
squalor, hunger, and egotism. If you come near 
them, and see what conceits they entertain, — 
they are abstractionists, and spend their days and 
nights in dreaming some dream ; in expecting the 


homage of society to some precious scheme built 
on a truth, but destitute of proportion in its pre- 
sentment, of justness in its application, and of all 
energy of will in the schemer to embody and 
vitalize it. 

But I see plainly, he says, that I cannot see. I 
know that human strength is not in extremes, but 
in avoiding extremes. I, at least, will shun the 
weakness of philosophizing beyond my depth. 
What is the use of pretending to powers we have 
not ? What is the use of pretending to assurances 
we have not, respecting the other life ? Why ex- 
aggerate the power of virtue ? Why be an angel 
before your time ? These strings, wound up too 
high, will snap. If there is a wish for immortal- 
ity, and no evidence, why not say just that ? If 
there are conflicting evidences, why not state 
them ? If there is not ground for a candid thinker 
to make up his mind, yea or nay, — why not sus- 
pend the judgment ? I weary of these dogma- 
tizers. I tire of these hacks of routine, who deny 
the dogmas. I neither affirm nor deny. I stand 
here to try the case. I am here to consider, 
Cxstttsjv, to consider how it is. I will try to 
keep the balance true. Of what use to take the 
chair, and glibly rattle off theories of society, 
religion, and nature, when I know that practical 
objections lie in the way, insurmountable by me 

montaigne; or, the skeptic. 157 

and by my mates ? Why so talkative in public, 
when each of my neighbors can pin me to my 
seat by arguments I cannot refute ? Why pretend 
that life is so simple a game, when we know how 
subtle and elusive the Proteus is ? Why think to 
shut up all things in your narrow coop, when we 
know there are not one or two only, but ten, 
twenty, a thousand things, and unlike ? Why 
fancy that you have all the truth in your keeping ? 
There is much to say on all sides. 

Who shall forbid a wise skepticism, seeing that 
there is no practical question on which any thing 
more than an approximate solution can be had ? 
Is not marriage an open question, when it is 
alleged, from the beginning of the world, that 
such as are in the institution wish to get out, and 
such as are out wish to get in ? And the reply of 
Socrates, to him who asked whether he should 
choose a wife, still remains reasonable, "that, 
whether he should choose one or not, he would 
repent it." Is not the state a question? All so- 
ciety is divided in opinion on the subject of the 
state. Nobody loves it ; great numbers dislike it, 
and suffer conscientious scruples to allegiance : 
and the only defence set up, is, the fear of doing 
worse in disorganizing. Is it otherwise with the 
church? Or, to put any of the questions which 
touch mankind nearest, — shall the young man aim 


at a leading part in law, in politics, in trade ? It 
will not be pretended that a success in either of 
these kinds is quite coincident with what is best 
and inmost in his mind. Shall he, then, cutting 
the stays that hold him fast to the social state, 
put out to sea with no guidance but his genius ? 
There is much to say on both sides. Remember 
the open question between the present order of 
" competition," and the friends of "attractive and 
associated labor." The generous minds embrace 
the proposition of labor shared by all ; it is the 
only honesty ; nothing else is safe. It is from the 
poor man's hut alone, that strength and virtue 
come : and yet, on the other side, it is alleged that 
labor impairs the form, and breaks the spirit of 
man, and the laborers cry unanimously, ' We have 
no thoughts.' Culture, how indispensable ! I 
cannot forgive you the want of accomplishments ; 
and yet, culture will instantly destroy that chiefest 
beauty of spontaneousness. Excellent is culture 
for a savage ; but once let him read in the book, 
and he is no longer able not to think of Plutarch's 
heroes. In short, since true fortitude of under- 
standing consists " in not letting what we know 
be embarrassed by what we do not know," we 
ought to secure those advantages which we can 
command, and not risk them by clutching after 
the airy and unattainable. Come, no chimeras ! 


Let us go abroad ; let us mix in affairs ; let us 
learn, and get, and have, and climb. " Men are a 
sort of moving plants, and, like trees, receive a 
great part of their nourishment from the air. If 
they keep too much at home, they pine." Let 
us have a robust, manly life ; let us know what 
we know, for certain ; what we have, let it be 
solid, and seasonable, and our own. A world in 
the hand is worth two in the bush. Let us have 
to do with real men and women, and not with 
skipping ghosts. 

This, then, is the right ground of the skeptic, — 
this of consideration, of self-containing ; not at all 
of unbelief; not at all of universal denying, nor 
of universal doubting, — doubting even that he 
doubts ; least of all, of scoffing and profligate jeer- 
ing at all that is stable and good. These are no 
more his moods than are those of religion and 
philosophy. He is the considerer, the prudent, 
taking in sail, counting stock, husbanding his 
means, believing that a man has too many en- 
emies, than that he can afford to be his own ; 
that we can not give ourselves too many advan- 
tages, in this unequal conflict, with powers so 
vast and unweariable ranged on one side, and 
this little, conceited, vulnerable popinjay that a 
man is, bobbing up and down into every danger, 
on the other. It is a position taken up for better 


defence, as of more safety, and one that can be 
maintained ; and it is one of more opportunity 
and range : as, when we build a house, the rule 
is, to set it not too high nor too low, under the 
wind, but out of the dirt. 

The philosophy we want is one of fluxions 
and mobility. The Spartan and Stoic schemes 
are too stark and stiff for our occasion. A theory 
of Saint John, and of nonresistance, seems, on 
the other hand, too thin and aerial. We want 
some coat woven of elastic steel, stout as the 
first, and limber as the second. We want a ship 
in these billows we inhabit. An angular, dog- 
matic house would be rent to chips and splinters, 
in this storm of many elements. No, it must be 
tight, and fit to the form of man, to live at all ; 
as a shell is the architecture of a house founded 
on the sea. The soul of man must be the type 
of our scheme, just as the body of man is the 
type after which a dwelling-house is built. 
Adaptiveness is the peculiarity of human nature. 
We are golden averages, volitant stabilities, com- 
pensated or periodic errors, houses founded on 
the sea. The wise skeptic wishes to have a 
near view of the best game, and the chief play- 
ers ; what is best in the planet ; art and nature, 
places and events, but mainly men. Every thing 
that is excellent in mankind, — a form of grace, an 


arm of iron, lips of persuasion, a brain of re- 
sources, every one skilful to play and win, — he 
will see and judge. 

The terms of admission to this spectacle, are, 
that he have a certain solid and intelligible way 
of living of his own ; some method of answering 
the inevitable needs of human life ; proof that 
he has played with skill and success ; that he 
has evinced the temper, stoutness, and the range 
of qualities which, among his contemporaries and 
countrymen, entitle him to fellowship and trust. 
For, the secrets of life are not shown except to 
sympathy and likeness. Men do not confide 
themselves to boys, or coxcombs, or pedants, but 
to their peers. Some wise limitation, as the 
modern phrase is ; some condition between the 
extremes, and having itself a positive quality ; 
some stark and sufficient man, who is not salt or 
sugar, but sufficiently related to the world to do 
justice to Paris or London, and, at the same time, 
a vigorous and original thinker, whom cities can 
not overawe, but who uses them, — is the fit 
person to occupy this ground of speculation. 

These qualities meet in the character of Mon- 
taigne. And yet, since the personal regard which 
I entertain for Montaigne may be unduly great, 
1 will, under the shield of this prince of egotists, 
offer, as an apology for electing him as the repre- 


sentative of skepticism, a word or two to explain 
how my love began and grew for this admirable 

A single odd volume of Cotton's translation of 
the Essays remained to me from my father's 
library, when a boy. It lay long neglected, until, 
after many years, when I was newly escaped from 
college, I read the book, and procured the remain- 
ing volumes. I remember the delight and won- 
der in which I lived with it. It seemed to me as 
if I had myself written the book, in some former 
life, so sincerely it spoke to my thought and ex- 
perience. It happened, when in Paris, in 1833, 
that, in the cemetery of Pere le Chaise, I came to 
a tomb of Auguste Collignon, who died in 1830, 
aged sixty-eight years, and who, said the monu- 
ment, " lived to do right, and had formed himself 
to virtue on the Essays of Montaigne." Some 
years later, I became acquainted with an accom- 
plished English poet, John Sterling ; and, in prose- 
cuting my correspondence, I found that, from a 
love of Montaigne, he had made a pilgrimage to 
his chateau, still standing near Castellan, in Peri- 
gord, and, after two hundred and fifty years, had 
copied from the walls of his library the inscriptions 
which Montaigne had written there. That Jour- 
nal of Mr. Sterling's, published in the West- 
minster Review, Mr. Hazlitt has reprinted in the 


Prolegomena to his edition of the Essays. I 
heard with pleasure that one of the newly-discov- 
ered autographs of William Shakspeare was in a 
copy of Florio's translation of Montaigne. It is 
the only book which we certainly know to have 
been in the poet's library. And, oddly enough, the 
duplicate copy of Florio, which the British Muse- 
um purchased, with a view of protecting the 
Shakspeare autograph, (as I was informed in the 
Museum,) turned out to have the autograph of 
Ben Jonson in the fly-leaf. Leigh Hmit relates 
of Lord Byron, that Montaigne was the only great 
writer of past times whom he read with avowed 
satisfaction. Other coincidences, not needful to 
be mentioned here, concurred to make this old 
Gascon still new and immortal for me. 

In 1571, on the death of his father, Montaigne, 
then thirty-eight years old, retired from the prac- 
tice of law, at Bordeaux, and settled himself on his 
estate. Though he had been a man of pleasure, 
and sometimes a courtier, his studious habits now 
grew on him, and he loved the compass, staidness, 
and independence, of the country gentleman's 
life. He took up his economy in good earnest, 
and made his farms yield the most. Downright 
and plain-dealing, and abhorring to be deceived or 
lo deceive, he was esteemed in the country for his 
sense and probity. In the civil wars of the 


League, which converted every house into a fort, 
Montaigne kept his gates open, and his house 
without defence. All parties freely came and 
went, his courage and honor being universally 
esteemed. The neighboring lords and gentry 
brought jewels and papers to him for safe-keep- 
ing. Gibbon reckons, in these bigoted times, but 
two men of liberality in France, — Henry IV". 
and Montaigne. 

Montaigne is the frankest and honestest of all 
writers. His French freedom runs into grossness ; 
but he has anticipated all censure by the bounty 
of his own confessions. In his times, books 
were written to one sex only, and almost all 
were written in Latin ; so that, in a humorist, a 
certain nakedness of statement was permitted, 
which our manners, of a literature addressed 
equally to both sexes, do not allow. But, though 
a biblical plainness, coupled with a most un- 
canonical levity, may shut his pages to many 
sensitive readers, yet the offence is superficial. 
He parades it : he makes the most of it : nobody 
can think or say worse of him than he does. He 
pretends to most of the vices ; and, if there be 
any virtue in him, he says, it got in by stealth. 
There is no man, in his opinion, who has not 
deserved hanging five or six times ; and he pre- 
tends no exception in his own behalf. " Five or 


six as ridiculous stories," too, he says, " can be 
told of me, as of any man living." But, with 
all this really superfluous frankness, the opinion 
of an invincible probity grows into every reader's 

" When I the most strictly and religiously 
confess myself, I find that the best virtue I have 
has in it some tincture of vice ; and I am afraid 
that Plato, in his purest virtue, (I, who am as 
sincere and perfect a lover of virtue of that stamp 
as any other whatever,) if he had listened, and 
laid his ear close to himself, would have heard 
some jarring sound of human mixture ; but faint 
and remote, and only to be perceived by him- 

Here is an impatience and fastidiousness at 
color or pretence of any kind. He has been in 
courts so long as to have conceived a furious dis- 
gust at appearances ; he will indulge himself with 
a little cursing and swearing ; he will talk with 
sailors and gipsies, use flash and street ballads : 
he has stayed in-doors till he is deadly sick ; he 
will to the open air, though it rain bullets. He 
has seen too much of gentlemen of the long 
robe, until he wishes for cannibals ; and is so 
nervous, by factitious life, that he thinks, the 
more barbarous man is, the better he is. He 
likes his saddle. You may read theology, and 


grammar, and metaphysics elsewhere. Whatever 
you get here, shall smack of the earth and of 
real life, sweet, or smart, or stinging. He makes 
no hesitation to entertain you with the records 
of his disease ; and his journey to Italy is quite 
full of that matter. He took and kept this 
position of equilibrium. Over his name, he drew 
an emblematic pair of scales, and wrote Que sgais 
je ? under it. As I look at his effigy opposite 
the title-page, I seem to hear him say, ' You may 
play old Poz, if you will ; you may rail and exag- 
gerate, — I stand here for truth, and will not, for 
all the states, and churches, and revenues, and 
personal reputations of Europe, overstate the dry 
fact, as I see it ; I will rather mumble and prose 
about what I certainly know, — my house and 
barns ; my father, my wife, and my tenants ; my 
old lean bald pate ; my knives and forks ; what 
meats I eat, and what drinks I prefer; and a 
hundred straws just as ridiculous, — than I will 
write, with a fine crow-quill, a fine romance. I 
like gray days, and autumn and winter weather. 
I am gray and autumnal myself, and think an 
undress, and old shoes that do not pinch my feet, 
and old friends who do not constrain me, and 
plain topics where I do not need to strain myself 
and pump my brains, the most suitable. Our 
condition as men is risky and ticklish enough. 


One can not be sure of himself and his fortune 
an hour, but he may be whisked off into some 
pitiable or ridiculous plight. Why should I 
vapor and play the philosopher, instead of ballast- 
ing, the best I can, this dancing balloon ? So, at 
least, I live within compass, keep myself ready 
for action, and can shoot the gulf, at last, with 
decency. If there be any thing farcical in such 
a life, the blame is not mine : let it lie at fate's 
and nature's door.' 

The Essays, therefore, are an entertaining 
soliloquy on every random topic that comes into 
his head • treating every thing without ceremony, 
yet with masculine sense. There have been men 
with deeper insight ; but, one would say, never 
a man with such abundance of thoughts : he is 
never dull, never insincere, and has the genius to 
make the reader care for all that he cares for. 

The sincerity and marrow of the man reaches 
to his sentences. I know not any where the 
book that seems less written. It is the language 
of conversation transferred to a book. Cut these 
words, and they would bleed ; they are vascular 
and alive. One has the same pleasure in it that 
we have in listening to the necessary speech of 
men about their work, when any unusual cir- 
cumstance gives momentary importance to the 
dialogue. For blacksmiths and teamsters do not 


trip in their speech ; it is a shower of bullets. It 
is Cambridge men who correct themselves, and 
begin again at every half sentence, and, more- 
over, will pun, and refine too much, and swerve 
from the matter to the expression. Montaigne 
talks with shrewdness, knows the world, and 
books, and himself, and uses the positive degree : 
never shrieks, or protests, or prays : no weakness, 
no convulsion, no superlative : does not wish to 
jump out of his skin, or play any antics, or anni- 
hilate space or time ; but is stout and solid ; tastes 
every moment of the day ; likes pain, because it 
makes him feel himself, and realize things ; as we 
pinch ourselves to know that we are awake. He 
keeps the plain ; he rarely mounts or sinks ; likes 
to feel solid ground, and the stones underneath. 
His writing has no enthusiasms, no aspiration ; 
contented, self-respecting, and keeping the middle 
of the road. There is but one exception, — in 
his love for Socrates. In speaking of him, for 
once his cheek flushes, and his style rises to 

Montaigne died of a quinsy, at the age of 
sixty, in 1592. When he came to die, he caused 
the mass to be celebrated in his chamber. At 
the age of thirty-three, he had been married. 
" But," he says, " might I have had my own 
will, I would, not have married Wisdom herself, 


if she would have had me : but 'tis to much 
purpose to evade it, the common custom and use 
of life will have it so. Most of my actions are 
guided by example, not choice." In the hour 
of death, he gave the same weight to custom. 
Que sgais je ? What do I know ? 

This book of Montaigne the world has en- 
dorsed, by translating it into all tongues, and 
printing seventy-five editions of it in Europe : 
and that, too, a circulation somewhat chosen, 
namely, among courtiers, soldiers, princes, men 
of the world, and men of wit and generosity. 

Shall we say that Montaigne has spoken wise- 
ly, and given the right and permanent expression 
of the human mind, on the conduct of life ? 

We are natural believers. Truth, or the con- 
nection between cause and effect, alone interests 
us. We are persuaded that a thread runs through 
all things : all worlds are strung on it, as beads : 
and men, and events, and life, come to us, only 
because of that thread : they pass and repass, 
only that Ave may know the direction and con- 
tinuity of that line. A book or statement which 
goes to show that there is no line, but random 
and chaos, a calamity out of nothing, a pros- 
perity and no account of it, a hero born from a 


fool, a fool from a hero, — dispirits us. Seen or 
unseen, we believe the tie exists. Talent makes 
counterfeit ties ; genius finds the real ones. We 
hearken to the man of science, because we anti- 
cipate the sequence in natural phenomena which 
he uncovers. We Love whatever affirms, con- 
nects, preserves ; and dislike what scatters or pulls 
down. One man appears whose nature is to all 
men's eyes conserving and constructive : his 
presence supposes a well-ordered society, agricul- 
ture, trade, large institutions, and empire. If 
these did not exist, they would begin to exist 
through his endeavors. Therefore, he cheers and 
comforts men, who feel all this in him very 
readily. The nonconformist and the rebel say 
all manner of unanswerable things against the 
existing republic, but discover to our sense no 
plan of house or state of their own. Therefore, 
though the town, and state, and way of living, 
which our counsellor contemplated, might be a 
very modest or musty prosperity, yet men rightly 
go for him, and reject the reformer, so long as 
he comes only with axe and crowbar. 

But though we are natural conservers and caus- 
ationists, and reject a sour, dumpish unbelief, the 
skeptical class, which Montaigne represents, have 
reason, and every man, at some time, belongs to 
it. Every superior mind will pass through this 


domain of equilibration, — I should rather say, 
will know how to avail himself of the checks 
and balances in nature, as a natural weapon 
against the exaggeration and formalism of bigots 
and blockheads. 

Skepticism is the attitude assumed by the 
student in relation to the particulars which so- 
ciety adores, but which he sees to be reverend 
only in their tendency and spirit. The ground 
occupied by the skeptic is the vestibule of the 
temple. Society does not like to have any 
breath of question blown on the existing order. 
But the interrogation of custom at all points is an 
inevitable stage in the growth of every superior 
mind, and is the evidence of its perception of 
the flowing power which remains itself in all 

The superior mind will find itself equally at 
odds with the evils of society, and with the 
projects that are offered to relieve them. The 
wise skeptic is a bad citizen : no conservative ; 
he sees the selfishness of property, and the drowsi- 
ness of institutions. But neither is he fit to work 
with any democratic party that ever was con- 
stituted ; for parties wish everyone committed, 
and he penetrates the popular patriotism. His 
politics are those of the "Soul's Errand" of Sir 
Walter Raleigh ; or of Krishna, in the Bha- 


gavat, " There is none who is worthy of my 
love or hatred ; " whilst he sentences law, physic, 
divinity, commerce, and custom. He is a re- 
former : yet he is no better member of the phi- 
lanthropic association. It turns out that he is 
not the champion of the operative, the pauper, 
the prisoner, the slave. It stands in his mind, 
that our life in this world is not of quite so 
easy interpretation as churches and school-books 
say. He does not wish to take ground against 
these benevolences, to play the part of devil's 
attorney, and blazon every doubt and sneer that 
darkens the sun for him. But he says, There 
are doubts. 

I mean to use the occasion, and celebrate the 
calendar-day of our Saint Michel de Montaigne, 
by counting and describing these doubts or ne- 
gations. I wish to ferret them out of their holes, 
and sun them a little. We must do with them as 
the police do with old rogues, who are shown up 
to the public at the marshal's office. They will 
never be so formidable, when once they have 
been identified and registered. But I mean hon- 
estly by them, — that justice shall be done to their 
terrors. I shall not take Sunday objections, made 
up on purpose to be put down. I shall take the 
worst I can find, whether I can dispose of them, 
or they of me. 


I do not press the skepticism of the materialist. 
I know, the quadruped opinion will not prevail. 
5 Tis of no importance what bats and oxen think. 
The first dangerous symptom I report, is, the levity 
of intellect ; as if it were fatal to earnestness to 
know much. Knowledge is the knowing that we 
can not know. The dull pray ; the geniuses are 
light mockers. How respectable is earnestness on 
every platform ! but intellect kills it. Nay, San 
Carlo, my subtle and admirable friend, one of the 
most penetrating of men, finds that all direct as- 
cension, even of lofty piety, leads to this ghastly 
insight, and sends back the votary orphaned. My 
astonishing San Carlo thought the lawgivers and 
saints infected. They found the ark empty ; saw, 
and would not tell ; and tried to choke off their 
approaching followers, by saying, ' Action, action, 
my dear fellows, is for you ! ' Bad as was to 
me this detection by San Carlo, this frost in July, 
this blow from a bride, there was still a worse, 
namely, the cloy or satiety of the saints. In the 
mount of vision, ere they have yet risen from their 
knees, they say, ' We discover that this our homage 
and beatitude is partial and deformed : we must 
fly for relief to the suspected and reviled Intellect, 
to the Understanding, the Mephistopheles, to the 
gymnastics of talent.' 

This is hobgoblin the first ; and, though it 


has been the subject of much elegy, in our 
nineteenth century, from Byron, Goethe, and 
other poets of less fame, not to mention many 
distinguished private observers, — I confess it is 
not very aifecting to my imagination ; for it seems 
to concern the shattering of baby-houses and 
crockery-shops. What nutters the church of 
Rome, or of England, or of Geneva, or of Boston, 
may yet be very far from touching any principle 
of faith. I think that the intellect and moral 
sentiment are unanimous ; and that, though 
philosophy extirpates bugbears, yet it supplies the 
natural checks of vice, and polarity to the soul. 
I think that the wiser a man is, the more stupen- 
dous he finds the natural and moral economy, 
and lifts himself to a more absolute reliance. 

There is the power of moods, each setting at 
nought all but its own tissue of facts and beliefs. 
There is the power of complexions, obviously 
modifying the dispositions and sentiments. The 
beliefs and unbeliefs appear to be structural ; and, 
as soon as each man attains the poise and vivacity 
which allow the whole machinery to play, he 
will not need extreme examples, but will rapidly 
alternate all opinions in his own life. Our life is 
March weather, savage and serene in one hour. 
We go forth austere, dedicated, believing in 
the iron links of Destiny, and will not turn on 


our heel to save our life : but a book, or a bust, 
or only the sound of a name, shoots a spark 
through the nerves, and we suddenly believe in 
will : my finger-ring shall be the seal of Sol- 
omon : fate is for imbeciles : all is possible to 
the resolved mind. Presently, a new experience 
gives a new turn to our thoughts : common 
sense resumes its tyranny : we say, ' Well, the 
army, after all, is the gate to fame, manners, and 
poetry : and, look you, — on the whole, selfishness 
plants best, prunes best, makes the best com- 
merce, and the best citizen.' Are the opinions 
of a man on right and wrong, on fate and causa- 
tion, at the mercy of a broken sleep or an indiges- 
tion ? Is his belief in God and Duty no deeper 
than a stomach evidence ? And what guaranty 
for the permanence of his opinions ? I like not 
the French celerity, — a new ehurch and state 
once a week. — This is the second negation ; and 
I shall let it pass for what it will. As far as it 
asserts rotation of states of mind, I suppose it 
suggests its own remedy, namely, in the record 
of larger periods. What is the mean of many 
states ; of all the states ? Does the general voice 
of ages affirm any principle, or is no community 
of sentiment discoverable in distant times and 
places ? And when it shows the power of self- 
interest, I accept that as part of the divine law, 


and must reconcile it with aspiration the best I 

The word Fate, or Destiny, expresses the 
sense of mankind, in all ages, — that the laws of 
the world do not always befriend, but often hurt 
and crush us. Fate, in the shape of Kinde or 
nature, grows over us like grass. We paint Time 
with a scythe ; Love and Fortune, blind ; and 
Destiny, deaf. We have too little power of 
resistance against this ferocity which champs us 
up. What front can we make against these 
unavoidable, victorious, maleficent forces ? What 
can I do against the influence of Race, in my 
history ? What can I do against hereditary and 
constitutional habits, against scrofula, lymph, im- 
potence ? against climate, against barbarism, in 
my country ? I can reason down or deny every 
thing, except this perpetual Belly : feed he must 
and will, and I cannot make him respectable. 

But the main resistance which the affirmative 
impulse finds, and one including all others, is in 
the doctrine of the Illusionists. There is a pain- 
ful rumor in circulation, that we have been 
practised upon in all the principal performances 
of life, and free agency is the emptiest name. 
We have been sopped and drugged with the air, 
with food, with woman, with children, with 


sciences, with events, which leave us exactly 
where they found us. The mathematics, 'tis 
complained, leave the mind where they find it : 
so do all sciences ; and so do all events and actions. 
I find a man who has passed through all the 
sciences, the churl he was ; and, through all the 
offices, learned, civil, and social, can detect 
the child. We are not the less necessitated to 
dedicate life to them. In fact, we may come to 
accept it as the fixed rule and theory of our state 
of education, that God is a substance, and his 
method is illusion. The eastern sages owned 
the goddess Yoganidra, the great illusory energy 
of Vishnu, by whom, as utter ignorance, the 
whole world is beguiled. 

Or, shall I state it thus ? — The astonishment 
of life, is, the absence of any appearance of re- 
conciliation between the theory and practice of 
life. Reason, the prized reality, the Law, is ap- 
prehended, now and then, for a serene and pro- 
found moment, amidst the hubbub of cares and 
works which have no direct bearing on it ; — is 
then lost, for months or years, and again found, 
for an interval, to be lost again. If we compute 
it in time, we may, in fifty years, have half a 
dozen reasonable hours. But what are these 
cares and works the better ? A method in the 
world we do not see, but this parallelism of great 


and little, which never react on each other, nor 
discover the smallest tendency to converge. Ex- 
periences, fortunes, govemings, readings, writings, 
are nothing to the purpose ; as when a man comes 
into the room, it does not appear whether he has 
been fed on yams or buffalo, — he has contrived 
to get so much bone and fibre as he wants, out 
of rice or out of snow. So vast is the dispropor- 
tion between the sky of law and the pismire of 
performance under it, that, whether he is a man 
of worth or a sot, is not so great a matter as we 
say. Shall I add, as one juggle of this enchant- 
ment, the stunning non-intercourse law which 
makes cooperation impossible ? The young spirit 
pants to enter society. But all the ways of cul- 
ture and greatness lead to solitary imprisonment. 
He has been often baulked. He did not expect a 
sympathy with his thought from the village, but 
he went with it to the chosen and intelligent, and 
found no entertainment for it, but mere misappre- 
hension, distaste, and scoffing. Men are strangely 
mistimed and misapplied ; and the excellence of 
each is an inflamed individualism which separates 
him more. 

There are these, and more than these diseases 
of thought, which our ordinary teachers do not 
attempt to remove. Now shall we, because a good 
nature inclines us to virtue's side, say, There are 


no doubts, — and lie for the right ? Is life to be 
led in a brave or in a cowardly manner ? and is 
not the satisfaction of the doubts essential to ail 
manliness ? Is the name of virtue to be a barrier 
to that which is virtue ? Can you not believe 
that a man of earnest and burly habit may find 
small good in tea, essays, and catechism, and want 
a rougher instruction, want men, labor, trade, 
farming, war, hunger, plenty, love, hatred, doubt, 
and terror, to make things plain to him ; and has 
he not a right to insist on being convinced in his 
own way? When he is convinced, he will be 
worth the pains. 

Belief consists in accepting the affirmations of 
the soul ; unbelief, in denying them. Some 
minds are incapable of skepticism. The doubts 
they profess to entertain are rather a civility or 
accommodation to the common discourse of their 
company. They may well give themselves leave 
to speculate, for they are secure of a return. Once 
admitted to the heaven of thought, they see no 
relapse into night, but infinite invitation on the 
other side. Heaven is within heaven, and sky 
over sky, and they are encompassed with divini- 
ties. Others there are, to whom the heaven is 
brass, and it shuts down to the surface of the 
earth. It is a question of temperament, or of more 
or less immersion in nature. The last class must 


needs have a reflex or parasite faith ; not a sight 
of realities, but an instinctive reliance on the seers 
and believers of realities. The manners and 
thoughts of believers astonish them, and convince 
them that these have seen something which is hid 
from themselves. But their sensual habit would 
fix the believer to his last position, whilst he as 
inevitably advances ; and presently the unbeliever, 
for love of belief, burns the believer. 

Great believers are always reckoned infidels, 
impracticable, fantastic, atheistic, and really men 
of no account. The spiritualist finds himself 
driven to express his faith by a series of skepti- 
cisms. Charitable souls come with their projects, 
and ask his cooperation. How can he hesitate ? 
It is the rule of mere comity and courtesy to 
agree where you can, and to turn your sentence 
with something auspicious^. and not freezing and 
sinister. But he is forced to say, ' O, these things 
will be as they must be : what can you do ? 
These particular griefs and crimes are the foliage 
and fruit of such trees as we see growing. It is 
vain to complain of the leaf or the berry : cut it 
off ; it will bear another just as bad. You must 
begin your cure lower down.' The generosities 
of the day prove an intractable element for him. 
The people's questions are not his ; their methods 
are not his ; and, against all the dictates of good 


nature, he is driven to say, he has no pleasure in 

Even the doctrines dear to the hope of man, 
of the divine Providence, and of the immortality 
of the soul, his neighbors can not put the statement 
so that he shall affirm it. But he denies out of 
more faith, and not less. He denies out of hon- 
esty. He had rather stand charged with the im- 
becility of skepticism, than with untruth. I 
believe, he says, in the moral design of the uni- 
verse ; it exists hospitably for the weal of souls ; 
but your dogmas seem to me caricatures : why 
should I make believe them ? Will any say, this 
is cold and infidel ? The wise and magnanimous 
will not say so. They will exult in his far-sighted 
good-will, that can abandon to the adversary all 
the ground of traditiornand common belief, with- 
out losing a jot of length. It sees to the end 
of all transgression. George Fox saw - that there 
was an ocean of darkness and death ; but withal, 
an infinite ocean of light and love which flowed 
over that of darkness." 

The final solution in which skepticism is lost, 
is, in the moral sentiment, which never forfeits 
its supremacy. All moods may be safely tried, 
and their weight allowed to all objections : the 
moral sentiment as easily outweighs them all, as 
any one. This is the drop which balances the 


sea. I play with the miscellany of facts, and 
take those superficial views which we call skep- 
ticism ; but I know that they will presently 
appear to me in that order which makes skep- 
ticism impossible. A man of thought must feel 
the thought that is parent of the universe : that 
the masses of nature do undulate and flow. 

This faith avails to the whole emergency of 
life and objects. The world is saturated with 
deity and with law. He is content with just 
and unjust, with sots and fools, with the triumph 
of folly and fraud. He can behold with serenity 
the yawning gulf between the ambition of man 
and his power of performance, between the 
demand and supply of power, which makes the 
tragedy of all souls. 

Charles Fourier announced that "the attractions 
of man are proportioned to his destinies ; " in 
other words, that every desire predicts its own 
satisfaction. Yet, all experience exhibits the 
reverse of this ; the incompetency of power is 
the universal grief of young and ardent minds. 
They accuse the divine providence of a certain 
parsimony. It has shown the heaven and earth 
to every child, and filled him with a desire for 
the whole ; a desire raging, infinite ; a hunger, as 
of space to be filled with planets ; a cry of 
famine, as of devils for souls. Then for the 


satisfaction, — to each man is administered a 
single drop, a bead of dew of vital power, per 
day, — a cup as large as space, and one drop of 
the water of life in it. Each man woke in the 
morning, with an appetite that could eat the solar 
system like a cake ; a spirit for action and passion 
without bounds ; he could lay his hand on the 
morning star : he could try conclusions with grav- 
itation or chemistry ; but, on the first motion to 
prove his strength, — hands, feet, senses, gave way, 
and would not serve him. He was an emperor 
deserted by his states, and left to whistle by him- 
self, or thrust into a mob of emperors, all whist- 
ling : and still the sirens sang, " The attractions 
are proportioned to the destinies." In every 
house, in the heart of each maiden, and of each 
boy, in the soul of the soaring saint, this chasm 
is found, — between the largest promise of ideal 
power, and the shabby experience. 

The expansive nature of truth comes to our 
succor, elastic, not to be surrounded. Man 
helps himself by larger generalizations. The 
lesson of life is practically to generalize : to 
believe what the years and the centuries say 
against the hours ; to resist the usurpation of 
particulars ; to penetrate to their catholic sense. 
Things seem to say one thing, and say the re- 
% r erse. The appearance is immoral ; the result is 


moral. Things seem to tend downward, to justi- 
fy despondency, to promote rogues, to defeat the 
just ; and, by knaves, as by martyrs, the just 
cause is carried forward. Although knaves win 
in every political struggle, although society seems 
to be delivered over from the hands of one set 
of criminals into the hands of another set of 
criminals, as fast as the government is changed, 
and the march of civilization is a train of felo- 
nies, yet, general ends are somehow answered. 
We see, now, events forced on, which seem to 
retard or retrograde the civility of ages. But the 
world-spirit is a good swimmer, and storms and 
waves can not drown him. He snaps his finger 
at laws : and so, throughout history, heaven seems 
to affect low and poor means. Through the 
years and the centuries, through evil agents, 
through toys and atoms, a great and beneficent 
tendency irresistibly streams. 

Let a man learn to look for the permanent in 
the mutable and fleeting ; let him learn to bear 
the disappearance of things he was wont to 
reverence, without losing his reverence ; let him 
learn that he is here, not to work, but to be 
worked upon ; and that, though abyss open under 
abyss, and opinion displace opinion, all are at last 
contained in the Eternal Cause. — 

" If my bark sink, 'tis to another sea." 





Great men are more distinguished by range and 
extent, than by originality. If we require the 
originality which consists in weaving, like a 
spider, their web from their own bowels ; in finding 
clay, and making bricks, and building the house ; 
no great men are original. Nor does valuable 
originality consist in unlikeness to other men. 
The hero is in the press of knights, and the thick 
of events ; and, seeing what men want, and sharing 
their desire, he adds the needful length of sight 
and of arm, to come at the desired point. The 
greatest genius is the most indebted man. A poet 
is no rattlebrain, saying what comes uppermost, 
and, because he says every thing, saying, at last, 
something good ; but a heart in unison with his 
time and country. There is nothing whimsical 
and fantastic in his production, but sweet and sad 
earnest, freighted with the weightiest convictions, 


and pointed with the most determined aim which 
any man or class knows of in his times. 

The Genius of our life is jealous of individuals, 
and will not have any individual great, except 
through the general. There is no choice to 
genius. A great man does not wake up on some 
fine morning, and say, 1 1 am full of life, I will go 
to sea, and find an Antarctic continent : to-day I 
will square the circle : I will ransack botany, and 
find a new food for man : I have a new architect- 
ure in my mind : I foresee a new mechanic 
power : ' no, but he finds himself in the river of 
the thoughts and events, forced onward by the 
ideas and necessities of his contemporaries. He 
stands where all the eyes of men look one way, 
and their hands all point in the direction in which 
he should go. The church has reared him amidst 
rites and pomps, and he carries out the advice 
which her music gave him, and builds a cathedral 
needed by her chants and processions. He finds 
a war raging : it educates him, by trumpet, in 
barracks, and he betters the instruction. He finds 
two counties groping to bring coal, or flour, or 
fish, from the place of production to the place of 
consumption, and he hits on a railroad. Every 
master has found his materials collected, and his 
power lay in his sympathy with his people, and 
in his love of the materials he wrought in. What 

THE POET. 189 

an economy of power ! and what a compensation 
for the shortness of life ! All is done to his hand. 
The world has brought him thus far on his way. 
The human race has gone out before him, sunk 
the hills, filled the hollows, and bridged the riv- 
ers. Men, nations, poets, artisans, women, all 
have worked for him, and he enters into their 
labors. Choose any other thing, out of the line 
of tendency, out of the national feeling and his- 
tory, and he would have all to do for himself : his 
powers would be expended in the first preparations. 
Great genial power, one would almost say, con- 
sists in not being original at all ; in being altogether 
receptive ; in letting the world do all. and suffer- 
ing the spirit of the hour to pass unobstructed 
through the mind. 

Shakspeare's youth fell in a time when the 
English people were importunate for dramatic 
entertainments. The court took offence easily 
at political allusions, and attempted to suppress 
them. The Puritans, a growing and energetic 
party, and the religious among the Anglican 
church, would suppress them. But the people 
wanted them. Inn-yards, houses without roofs, 
and extemporaneous enclosures at country fairs, 
were the ready theatres of strolling players. 
The people had tasted this new joy ; and, as we 
could not hope to suppress newspapers now, — no, 


not by the strongest party, — neither then could 
king, prelate, or puritan, alone or united, suppress 
an organ, which was ballad, epic, newspaper, 
caucus, lecture, punch, and library, at the same 
time. Probably king, prelate, and puritan, all 
found their own account in it. It had become, 
by all causes, a national interest, — by no means 
conspicuous, so that some great scholar would 
have thought of treating it in an English history, 
— but not a whit less considerable, because it was 
cheap, and of no account, like a baker's-shop. 
The best proof of its vitality is the crowd of writers 
which suddenly broke into this field : Kyd, Mar- 
low, Greene, Jonson, Chapman, Dekker, Webster, 
Heywood, Middleton, Peele, Ford, Massinger, 
Beaumont, and Fletcher. 

The secure possession, by the stage, of the 
public mind, is of the first importance to the poet 
who works for it. He loses no time in idle 
experiments. Here is audience and expectation 
prepared. In the case of Shakspeare there is 
much more. At the time when he left Stratford, 
and went up to London, a great body of stage-plays, 
of all dates and writers, existed in manuscript, 
and were in turn produced on the boards. Here 
is the Tale of Troy, which the audience will 
bear hearing some part of every week ; the Death 
of Julius Caesar, and other stories out of Plutarch, 


which they never tire of; a shelf full of English 
history, from the chronicles of Brut and Arthur, 
down to the royal Henries, which men hear 
eagerly ; and a string of doleful tragedies, merry 
Italian tales, and Spanish voyages, which all the 
London prentices know. All the mass has been 
treated, with more or less skill, by every play- 
wright, and the prompter has the soiled and 
tattered manuscripts. It is now no longer pos- 
sible to say who wrote them first. They have 
been the property of the Theatre so long, and so 
many rising geniuses have enlarged or altered 
them, inserting a speech, or a whole scene, or 
adding a song, that no man can any longer claim 
copyright on this work of numbers. Happily, no 
man wishes to. They are not yet desired in that 
way. We have few readers, many spectators 
and hearers. They had best lie where they are. 
Shakspeare, in common with his comrades, 
esteemed the mass of old plays, waste stock, in 
which any experiment could be freely tried. Had 
the prestige which hedges about a modern tragedy 
existed, nothing could have been done. The 
rude warm blood of the living England circulated 
in the play, as in street-ballads, and gave body 
which he wanted to his airy and majestic fancy. 
The poet needs a ground in popular tradition on 
which he may work, and which, again, may 


restrain his art within the due temperance, It 
holds him to the people, supplies a foundation for 
his edifice ; and, in furnishing so much work done 
to his hand, leaves him at leisure, and in full 
strength for the audacities of his imagination. 
In short, the poet owes to his legend what sculp- 
ture owed to the temple. Sculpture in Egypt, 
and in Greece, grew up in subordination to 
architecture. It was the ornament of the temple 
wall : at first, a rude relief carved on pediments, 
then the relief became bolder, and a head or 
arm was projected from the wall, the groups 
being still arrayed with reference to the building, 
which serves also as a frame to hold the figures ; 
and when, at last, the greatest freedom of style 
and treatment was reached, the prevailing genius 
of architecture still enforced a certain ca'xnness 
and continence in the statue. As soon as the 
statue was begun for itself, and with no reference 
to the temple or palace, the art began to decline : 
freak, extravagance, and exhibition, took the place 
of the old temperance. This balance-wheel, 
which the sculptor found in architecture, the 
perilous irritability of poetic talent found in the 
accumulated dramatic materials to which the peo- 
ple were already wonted, and which had a certain 
excellence which no single genius, however 
extraordinary, could hope to create. 


In point of fact, it appears that Shakspeare did 
owe debts in all directions, and was able to use 
whatever he found ; and the amount of indebted- 
ness may be inferred from Malone's laborious com- 
putations in regard to the First, Second, and Third 
parts of Henry VI., in which, " out of 6043 lines, 
1771 were written by some author preceding 
Shakspeare ; 2373 by him, on the foundation laid 
by his predecessors ; and 1899 were entirely his 
own." And the proceeding investigation hardly 
leaves a single drama of his absolute invention. 
Malone's sentence is an important piece of ex- 
ternal history. In Henry VIII., I think I see 
plainly the cropping out of the original rock on 
which his own finer stratum was laid. The first 
play was written by a superior, thoughtful man, 
with a vicious ear. I can mark his lines, and 
know well their cadence. See Wolsey's soliloquy, 
and the following scene with Cromwell, where, — ■ 
instead of the metre of Shakspeare, whose secret 
is, that the thought constructs the tune, so that 
reading for the sense will best bring out the 
rhythm, — here the lines are constructed on a 
given tune, and the verse has even a trace of 
pulpit eloquence. But the play contains, through 
all its length, unmistakable traits of Shakspeare's 
hand, and some passages, as the account of the 
coronation, are like autographs. What is odd, 


the compliment to Q,ueen Elizabeth is in the bad 

Shakspeare knew that tradition supplies a bet- 
ter fable than any invention can. If he lost any 
credit of design, he augmented his resources • and, 
at that day, our petulant demand for originality 
was not so much pressed. There was no literature 
for the million. The universal reading, the cheap 
press, were unknown. A great poet, who appears 
in illiterate times, absorbs into his sphere all the 
light which is any where radiating. Every 
intellectual jewel, every flower of sentiment, it 
is his fine office to bring to his people ; and he 
comes to value his memory equally with his 
invention. He is therefore little solicitous whence 
his thoughts have been derived ; whether through 
translation, whether through tradition, whether 
by travel in distant countries, whether by inspira- 
tion ; from whatever source, they are equally 
welcome to his uncritical audience. Nay, he 
borrows very near home. Other men say wise 
things as well as he ; only they say a good many 
foolish things, and do not know when they have 
spoken wisely. He knows the sparkle of the 
true stone, and puts it in high place, wherever 
he finds it. Such is the happy position of Homer, 
perhaps ; of Chaucer, of Saadi. They felt that 
all wit was their wit. And they are librarians 


and historiographers, as well as poets. Each 
romancer was heir and dispenser of all the hun- 
dred tales of the world, — 

" Presenting Thebes' and Pelops' line 
And the tale of Troy divine." 

The influence of Chaucer is conspicuous in all 
our early literature ; and, more recently, not only 
Pope and Dryden have been beholden to him, 
but, in the whole society of English writers, a 
large unacknowledged debt is easily traced. One 
is charmed with the opulence which feeds so 
many pensioners. But Chaucer is a huge bor- 
rower. Chaucer, it seems, drew continually, 
through Lydgate and Caxton, from Guido di 
Colonna, whose Latin romance of the Trojan 
war was in turn a compilation from Dares Phry- 
gius, Ovid, and Statius. Then Petrarch, Boccac- 
cio, and the Provencal poets, are his benefactors : 
the Romaunt of the Rose is only judicious trans- 
lation from William of Lorris and John of Meun : 
Troilus and Creseide, from Lollius of Urbino: 
The Cock and the Fox, from the Lais of Marie : 
The House of Fame, from the French or Italian : 
and poor Gower he uses as if he were only a 
brick-kiln or stone-quarry, out of which to build 
his house. He steals by this apology, — that what 


he takes has no worth where he finds it, and the 
greatest where he leaves it. It has come to be 
practically a sort of rule in literature, that a man, 
having once shown himself capable of original 
writing, is entitled thenceforth to steal from the 
writings of others at discretion. Thought is the 
property of him who can entertain it ; and of 
him who can adequately place it. A certain 
awkwardness marks the use of borrowed thoughts ; 
but, as soon as we have learned what to do with 
them, they become our own. 

Thus, all originality is relative. Every thinker 
is retrospective. The learned member of the 
legislature, at Westminster, or at Washington, 
speaks and votes for thousands. Show us the 
constituency, and the now invisible channels by 
which the senator is made aware of their wishes, 
the crowd of practical and knowing men, who, 
by correspondence or conversation, are feeding 
him with evidence, anecdotes, and estimates, and 
it will bereave his fine attitude and resistance of 
something of their impressiveness. As Sir Rob- 
ert Peel and Mr. Webster vote, so Locke and 
Rousseau think for thousands ; and so there 
were fountains all around Homer, Menu, Saadi, 
or Milton, from which they drew ; friends, lovers, 
books, traditions, proverbs, — all perished, — 
which, if seen, would go to reduce the wonder. 


Did the bard speak with authority? Did he 
feel himself overmatched by any companion? 
The appeal is to the consciousness of the writer. 
Is there at last in his breast a Delphi whereof to 
ask concerning any thought or thing, whether it 
be verily so, yea or nay? and to have answer, 
and to rely on that ? All the debts which such 
a man could contract to other wit, would never 
disturb his consciousness of originality : for the 
ministrations of books, and of other minds, are a 
whiff of smoke to that most private reality with 
which he has conversed. 

It is easy to see that what is best written or 
done by genius, in the world, was no man's work, 
but came by wide social labor, when a thousand 
wrought like one, sharing the same impulse. 
Our English Bible is a wonderful specimen of the 
strength and music of the English language. But 
it was not made by one man, or at one time ; but 
centuries and churches brought it to perfection. 
There never was a time when there was not some 
translation existing. The Liturgy, admired for its 
energy and pathos, is an anthology of the piety 
of ages and nations, a translation of the prayers 
and forms of the Catholic church, — these col- 
lected, too, in long periods, from the prayers and 
meditations of every saint and sacred writer, all 


over the world. Grotius makes the like remark 
in respect to the Lord's Prayer, that the single 
clauses of which it is composed were already in 
use, in the time of Christ, in the rabbinical forms. 
He picked out the grains of gold. The nervous 
language of the Common Law, the impressive 
forms of our courts, and the precision and substan- 
tial truth of the legal distinctions, are the contribu- 
tion of all the sharp-sighted, strong-minded men 
who have lived in the countries where these laws 
govern. The translation of Plutarch gets its ex- 
cellence by being translation on translation. There 
never was a time when there was none. All the 
truly idiomatic and national phrases are kept, and 
all others successively picked out, and thrown 
away. Something like the same process had gone 
on, long before, with the originals of these books. 
The world takes liberties with world-books. Ve- 
das, iEsop's Fables, Pilpay, Arabian Nights, Cid, 
Iliad, Robin Hood, Scottish Minstrelsy, are not 
the work of single men. In the composition 
of such works, the time thinks, the market 
thinks, the mason, the carpenter, the merchant, 
the farmer, the fop, all think for us. Every book 
supplies its time with one good word ; every 
municipal law, every trade, every folly of the day, 
and the generic catholic genius who is not afraid 
or ashamed to owe his originality to the original- 

OR, THE POET. 199 

ity of all, stands with the next age as the recorder 
and embodiment of his own. 

We have to thank the researches of antiquaries, 
and the Shakspeare Society, for ascertaining the 
steps of the English drama, from the Mysteries 
celebrated in churches and by churchmen, and the 
final detachment from the church, and the com- 
pletion of secular plays, from Ferrex and Porrex, 
and Gammer Gurton's Needle, down to the pos- 
session of the stage by the very pieces which 
Shakspeare altered, remodelled, and finally made 
his own. Elated with success, and piqued by the 
growing interest of the problem, they have left 
no book-stall unsearched, no chest in a garret un- 
opened, no file of old yellow accounts to decom- 
pose in damp and worms, so keen was the hope to 
discover whether the boy Shakspeare poached or 
not, whether he held horses at the theatre door, 
whether he kept school, and why he left in his 
will only his second-best bed to Ann Hathaway, 
his wife. 

There is somewhat touching in the madness 
with which the passing age mischooses the object 
on which all candles shine, and all eyes are turned ; 
the care with which it registers every trifle touch- 
ing Queen Elizabeth, and King James, and the 
Essexes, Leicesters, Burleighs, and Buckinghams ; 
and lets pass without a single valuable note the 


founder of another dynasty, which alone will cause 
the Tudor dynasty to be remembered, — the man 
who carries the Saxon race in him by the inspira- 
tion which feeds him, and on whose thoughts the 
foremost people of the world are now for some 
ages to be nourished, and minds to receive this 
and not another bias. A popular player, — nobody 
suspected he was the poet of the human race ; 
and the secret was kept as faithfully from poets 
and intellectual men, as from courtiers and frivo- 
lous people. Bacon, who took the inventory of 
the human understanding for his times, never 
mentioned his name. Ben Jonson, though we 
have strained his few words of regard and pane- 
gyric, had no suspicion of the elastic fame whose 
first vibrations he was attempting. He no doubt 
thought the praise he has conceded to him gen- 
erous, and esteemed himself, out of all question, 
the better poet of the two. 

If it need wit to know wit, according to the 
proverb, Shakspeare's time should be capable of 
recognizing it. Sir Henry Wotton was born four 
years after Shakspeare, and died twenty-three 
years after him ; and I find, among his correspond- 
ents and acquaintances, the following persons : 
Theodore Beza, Isaac Casaubon, Sir Philip Sid- 
ney, Earl of Essex, Lord Bacon, Sir Walter 
Raleigh, John Milton, Sir Henry Vane, Isaac 

OR, THE POET. 201 

Walton, Dr. Donne, Abraham Cowley, Bellar- 
mine, Charles Cotton, John Pym, John Hales, 
Kepler, Yieta, Albericus Gentilis, Paul Sarpi, 
Arminius ; with all of whom exists some token 
of his having communicated, without enumerating 
many others, whom doubtless he saw, — Shak- 
speare, Spenser, Jonson, Beaumont, Massinger, 
two Herberts, Marlow, Chapman, and the rest. 
Since the constellation of great men who appeared 
in Greece in the time of Pericles, there was never 
any such society j — yet their genius failed them 
to find out the best head in the universe. Our 
poet's mask was impenetrable. You cannot see 
the mountain near. It took a century to make it 
suspected ; and not until two centuries had passed, 
after his death, did any criticism which we think 
adequate begin to appear. It was not possible to 
write the history of Shakspeare till now ; for he 
is the father of German literature : it was on the 
introduction of Shakspeare into German, by Les- 
sing, and the translation of his works by Wieland 
and Schlegel, that the rapid burst of German lit- 
erature was most intimately connected. It was 
not until the nineteenth century, whose specula- 
tive genius is a sort of living Hamlet, that the 
tragedy of Hamlet could find such wondering 
readers. Now, literature, philosophy, and thought, 
are Shakspearized. His mind is the horizon be- 


yond which, at present, we do not see. Our ears 
are educated to music by his rhythm. Coleridge 
and Goethe are the only critics who have ex- 
pressed our convictions with any adequate fidelity : 
but there is in all cultivated minds a silent ap- 
preciation of his superlative power and beauty, 
which, like Christianity, qualifies the period. 

The Shakspeare Society have inquired in all 
directions, advertised the missing facts, offered 
money for any information that will lead to proof ; 
and with what result? Beside some important 
illustration of the history of the English stage, to 
which I have adverted, they have gleaned a few 
facts touching the property, and dealings in regard 
to property, of the poet. It appears that, from 
year to year, he owned a larger share in the 
Blackfriars' Theatre : its wardrobe and other 
appurtenances were his : that he bought an estate 
in his native village, with his earnings, as writer 
and shareholder ; that he lived in the best house 
in Stratford ; was intrusted by his neighbors with 
their commissions in London, as of borrowing 
money, and the like ; that he was a veritable 
farmer. About the time when he was writing 
Macbeth, he sues Philip Rogers, in the borough- 
court of Stratford, for thirty-five shillings, ten 
pence, for corn delivered to him at different times ; 
and, in all respects, appears as a good husband, 


with no reputation for eccentricity or excess. He 
was a good-natured sort of man, an actor and 
shareholder in the theatre, not in any striking 
manner distinguished from other actors and 
managers. I admit the importance of this infor- 
mation. It was well worth the pains that have 
been taken to procure it. 

But whatever scraps of information concerning 
his condition these researches may have rescued, 
they can shed no light upon that infinite inven- 
tion which is the concealed magnet of his attrac- 
tion for us. We are very clumsy writers of 
history. We tell the chronicle of parentage, 
birth, birth-place, schooling, school-mates, earning 
of money, marriage, publication of books, celeb- 
rity, death ; and when we have come to an end of 
this gossip, no ray of relation appears between it 
and the goddess-born ; and it seems as if, had we 
dipped at random into the "Modern Plutarch," 
and read any other life there, it would have fitted 
the poems as well. It is the essence of poetry to 
spring, like the rainbow daughter of Wonder, from 
the invisible, to abolish the past, and refuse all 
history. Malone, Warburton, Dyce, and Collier, 
have wasted their oil. The famed theatres, 
Covent Garden, Drury Lane, the Park, and Tre- 
mont, have vainly assisted. Betterton, Garrick, 
Kemble, Kean, and Macready, dedicate their lives 


to this genius ; him they crown, elucidate, obey, 
and express. The genius knows them not. The 
recitation begins ; one golden word leaps out 
immortal from all this painted pedantry, and 
sweetly torments us with invitations to its own 
inaccessible homes. I remember, I went once 
to see the Hamlet of a famed performer, the 
pride of the English stage ; and all I then heard, 
and all I now remember, of the tragedian, was 
that in which the tragedian had no part j simply, 
Hamlet's question to the ghost, — 

" What may this mean, 
That thou, dead corse, again in complete steel 
Revisit'st thus the glimpses of the moon ? " 

That imagination which dilates the closet he 
writes in to the world's dimension, crowds it 
with agents in rank and order, as quickly reduces 
the big reality to be the glimpses of the moon. 
These tricks of his magic spoil for us the illu- 
sions of the green-room. Can any biography 
shed light on the localities into which the 
Midsummer Night's Dream admits me ? Did 
Shakspeare confide to any notary or parish 
recorder, sacristan, or surrogate, in Stratford, the 
genesis of that delicate creation ? The forest of 
Arden, the nimble air of Scone Castle, the moon- 
light of Portia's villa, " the antres vast and desarts 

} THE POET. 205 

idle," of Othello's captivity. — where is the third 
cousin, or grand-nephew, the chancellor's file of 
accounts, or private letter, that has kept one word 
of those transcendent secrets ? In fine, in this 
drama, as in all great works of art, — in the! 
Cyclopsean architecture of Egypt and India ; in j 
the Phidian sculpture ; the Gothic minsters ; thei 
Italian painting ; the Ballads of Spain and Scot-f 
land. — the Genius draws up the ladder after him r j 
when the creative age goes up to heaven, and] 
gives way to a new, who see the works, and ask 
in vain for a history. 

Shakspeare is the only biographer of Shak- 
speare ; and even he can tell nothing, except to the 
Shakspeare in us ; that is, to our most apprehen- 
sive and sympathetic hour. He cannot step from 
off his tripod, and give us anecdotes of his inspi- 
rations. Read the antique documents extricated^ 
analyzed, and compared, by the assiduous Dyce 
and Collier ; and now read one of those skieyl 
sentences, — aerolites, — which seem to havel 
fallen out of heaven, and which, not your expe-/ 
rience, but the man within the breast, has accepted 
as words of fate ; and tell me if they match ; if 
the former account in any manner for the latter ; 
or, which gives the most historical insight into the 

Hence, though our external history is so mea- 


gre, yet, with Shakspeare for biographer, instead 
of Aubrey and RoAve, we have really the in- 
formation which is material, that which describes 
character and fortune, that which, if we were 
about to meet the man and deal with him, would 
most import us to know. We have his recorded 
convictions on those questions which knock for 
answer at every heart, — on life and death, on love, 
on wealth and poverty, on the prizes of life, and 
the ways whereby we come at them ; on the 
characters of men, and the influences, occult and 
open, which affect their fortunes : and on those 
mysterious and demoniacal powers which defy 
our science, and which yet interweave their mal- 
ice and their gift in our brightest hours. Who 
ever read the volume of the Sonnets, without 
finding that the poet had there revealed, under 
masks that are no masks to the intelligent, the 
lore of friendship and of love ; the confusion of 
sentiments in the most susceptible, and, at the 
same time, the most intellectual of men ? What 
trait of his private mind has he hidden in his" 
dramas ? One can discern, in his ample pictures 
of the gentleman and the king, what forms and 
humanities pleased him ; his delight in troops of 
friends, in large hospitality, in cheerful giving. 
Let Timon, let Warwick, let Antonio the mer- 
chant, answer for his great heart. So far from 

OR, THE POET. 207 

Shakspeare's being the least known, he is the 
one person, in all modern history, known to us. 
What point of morals, of manners, of economy, 
of philosophy, of religion, of taste, of the con- 
duct of life, has he not settled ? What mystery 
has he not signified his knowledge of? What 
office, or function, or district of man's work, has 
he not remembered ? What king has he not 
taught state, as Talma taught Napoleon ? What 
maiden has not found him finer than her deli- 
cacy ? What lover has he not outloved ? What 
sage has he not outseen ? What gentleman has 
he not instructed in the rudeness of his behavior ? 
Some able and appreciating critics think no 
criticism on Shakspeare valuable, that does not 
rest purely on the dramatic merit ; that he is 
falsely judged as poet and philosopher. I think as 
highly as these critics of his dramatic merit, but 
still think it secondary. He was a full man, who 
liked to talk ; a brain exhaling thoughts and im- 
ages, which, seeking vent, found the drama next 
at hand. Had he been less, we should have had 
to consider how well he filled his place, how good 
a dramatist he was, — and he is the best in the 
world. Bat it turns out, that what he has to say 
is of that weight, as to withdraw some attention 
from the vehicle ; and he is like some saint whose 
history is to be rendered into all languages, into 


verse and prose, into songs and pictures, and cut 
up into proverbs ; so that the occasion which gave 
the saint's meaning the form of a conversation, or 
of a prayer, or of a code of laws, is immaterial, 
compared with the universality of its application. 
So it fares with the wise Shakspeare and his book 
of life. He wrote the airs for all our modern 
music : he wrote the text of modern life • the 
text of manners : he drew the man of England 
and Europe ; the father of the man in America : 
he drew the man, and described the day, and 
what is done in it : he read the hearts of men and 
women, their probity, and their second thought, 
and wiles ; the wiles of innocence, and the transi- 
tions by which virtues and vices slide into their 
contraries : he could divide the mother's part from 
the father's part in the face of the child, or draw 
the fine demarcations of freedom and of fate : he 
knew the laws of repression which make the 
police of nature : and all the sweets and all the 
terrors of human lot lay in his mind as truly but 
as softly as the landscape lies on the eye. And 
the importance of this wisdom of life sinks the 
form, as of Drama or Epic, out of notice. 'Tis 
like making a question concerning the paper on 
which a king's message is written. 

Shakspeare is as much out of the category of 
eminent authors, as he is out of the crowd. He 


is inconceivably wise ; the others, conceivably. A 
good reader can, in a sort, nestle into Plato's brain, 
and think from thence ; but not into Shakspeare's. 
We are still out of doors. For executive faculty, 
for creation, Shakspeare is unique. No man can 
imagine it better. He was the farthest reach of 
subtlety compatible with an individual self, — the 
subtilest of authors, and only just within the pos- 
sibility of authorship. With this wisdom of life, 
is the equal endowment of imaginative and of 
lyric power. He clothed the creatures of his 
legend with form and sentiments, as if they were 
people who had lived under his roof; and few 
real men have left such distinct characters as these 
fictions. And they spoke in language as sweet 
as it was fit. Yet his talents never seduced him 
into an ostentation, nor did he harp on one string. 
An omnipresent humanity coordinates all his fac- 
ulties. Give a man of talents a story to tell, 
and his partiality will presently appear. He has 
certain observations, opinions, topics, which have 
some accidental prominence, and which he dis- 
poses all to exhibit. He crams this part, and 
starves that other part, consulting not the fitness 
of the thing, but his fitness and strength. But 
Shakspeare has no peculiarity, no importunate 
topic ; but all is duly given ; no veins, no curiosi- 
ties : no cow-painter, no bird-fancier, no manner- 


ist is he : he has no discoverable egotism : the 
great he tells greatly ; the small, subordinately. 
He is wise without emphasis or assertion ; he is 
strong, as nature is strong, who lifts the land into 
mountain slopes without effort, and by the same 
rule as she floats a bubble in the air, and likes as 
well to do the one as the other. This makes that 
equality of power in farce, tragedy, narrative, and 
love-songs j a merit so incessant, that each reader 
is incredulous of the perception of other readers. 

This power of expression, or of transferring the 
inmost truth of things into music and verse, 
makes him the type of the poet, and has added 
a new problem to metaphysics. This is that 
which throws him into natural history, as a main 
production of the globe, and as announcing new 
eras and ameliorations. Things were mirrored in 
his poetry without loss or blur : he could paint 
the fine with precision, the great with compass ; 
the tragic and the comic indifferently, and without 
any distortion or favor. He carried his powerful 
execution into minute details, to a hair point ; 
finishes an eyelash or a dimple as firmly as he 
draws a mountain ; and yet these, like nature's, 
will bear the scrutiny of the solar microscope. 

In short, he is the chief example to prove that 
more or less of production, more or fewer pictures, 
is a thing indifferent. He had the power to make 

OR, THE POET. 211 

one picture. Daguerre learned how to let one 
flower etch its image on his plate of iodine ; and 
then proceeds at leisure to etch a million. There 
are always objects ; hut there was never represen- 
tation. Here is perfect representation, at last ; and 
now let the world of figures sit for their portraits. 
No recipe can he given for the making of a 
Shakspeare ; but the possibility of the translation 
of things into song is demonstrated. 

His lyric power lies in the genius of the piece. 
The sonnets, though their excellence is lost in the 
splendor of the dramas, are as inimitable as they : 
and it is not a merit of lines, but a total merit of 
the piece ; like the tone of voice of some incom- 
parable person, so is this a speech of poetic beings, 
and any clause as unproducible now as a whole 

Though the speeches in the plays, and single 
lines, have a beauty which tempts the ear to pause 
on them for their euphuism, yet the sentence is 
so loaded with meaning, and so linked with its 
foregoers and followers, that the logician is satis- 
fied. His means are as admirable as his ends ; 
every subordinate invention, by which he helps 
himself to connect some irreconcilable opposites, 
is a poem too. He is not reduced to dismount 
and walk, because his horses are running off with 
him in some distant direction : he always rides. 


The finest poetry was first experience : but 
the thought has suffered a transformation since it 
was an experience. Cultivated men often attain 
a good degree of skill in writing verses ; but it is 
easy to read, through their poems, their personal 
history : any one acquainted with parties can 
name every figure : this is Andrew, and that is 
Rachel. The sense thus remains prcsaic. It is 
a caterpillar with wings, and not yet a butterfly. 
In the poet's mind, the fact has gone quite over 
into the new element of thought, and has lost all 
that is exnvial. This generosity abides with 
Shakspeare. We say, from the truth and close- 
ness of his pictures, that he knows the lesson by 
heart. Yet there is not a trace of egotism. 

One more royal trait properly belongs to the 
poet. I mean his cheerfulness, without which 
no man can be a pcet, — for beauty is his aim. He 
loves virtue, not for its obligation, but for its 
grace : he delights in the world, in man, in 
woman, for the lovely light that sparkles from 
them. Beauty, the spirit of joy and hilarity, he 
sheds over the universe. Epicurus relates, that 
poetry hath such charms that a lover might for- 
sake his mistress to partake of them. And the 
true bards have been noted for their firm and 
cheerful temper. Homer lies in sunshine ; Chau- 
cer is glad and erect ; and Saadi says, " It was 


rumored abroad that I was penitent ; but what 
had I to do with repentance ? " Not less sov- 
ereign and cheerful, — much more sovereign and 
cheerful, is the tone of Shakspeare. His name 
suggests joy and emancipation to the heart of 
men. If he should appear in any company of 
human souls, who would not march in his troop ? 
He touches nothing that does not borrow health 
and longevity from his festal style. 

And now, how stands the account of man with 
this bard and benefactor, when in solitude, shut- 
ting our ears to the reverberations of his fame, 
we seek to strike the balance ? Solitude has 
austere lessons ; it can teach us to spare both 
heroes and poets ; and it weighs Shakspeare also, 
and finds him to share the halfness and imperfec- 
tion of humanity. 

Shakspeare, Homer, Dante, Chaucer, saw the 
splendor of meaning that plays over the visible 
world ; knew that a tree had another use than 
for apples, and corn another than for meal, and 
the ball of the earth, than for tillage and roads : 
that these things bore a second and finer harvest 
to the mind, being emblems of its thoughts, and 
conveying in all their natural history a certain 
mute commentary on human life. Shakspeare 
employed them as colors to compose his picture. 


He rested in their "beauty ; and never took the 
step which seemed inevitable to snch genius, 
namely, to explore the virtue which resides in 
these symbols, and imparts this power, — what is 
that which they themselves say ? He converted 
the elements, which waited on his command, into 
entertainments. He was master of the revels to 
mankind. Is it not as if one should have, through 
majestic powers of science, the comets given into 
his hand, or the planets and their moons, and 
should draw them from their orbits to glare with 
the municipal fireworks on a holiday night, and 
advertise in all towns, " very superior pyrotechny 
this evening!" Are the agents of nature, and 
the power to understand them, worth no more 
than a street serenade, or the breath of a cigar ? 
One remembers again the trumpet-text in the 
Koran, — " The heavens and the earth, and all 
that is between them, think ye we have created 
them in jest ? " As long as the question is of 
talent and mental power, the world of men has 
net his equal to show. But when the question 
is to life, and its materials, and its auxiliaries, how 
dees he profit me ? What does it signify ? It is 
but a Twelfth Night, or Midsummer-Night's 
Dream, or a Winter Evening's Tale : what sig- 
nifies another picture more or less ? The Egyptian 


verdict of the Shakspeare Societies comes to mind, 
that he was a jovial actor and manager. I can 
net marry this fact to his verse. Other admirable 
men have led lives in some sort of keeping with 
their thought ; but this man, in wide contrast. 
Had he been less, had he reached only the com- 
mon measure of great authors, of Bacon, Milton, 
Tasso, Cervantes, we might leave the fact in the 
twilight of human fate : bat, that this man of 
men, he who gave to the science of mind a new 
and larger subject than had ever existed, and 
planted the standard of humanity some furlongs 
forward into Chaos, — that he should net be wise 
for himself, — it must even go into the world's 
history, that the best poet led an obscure and 
profane life, using his genius for the public 

Well, other men, priest and prophet, Israelite, 
German, and Swede, beheld the same objects : 
they also saw through them that which was 
contained. And to what purpose ? The beauty 
straightway vanished ; they read commandments, 
all-excluding mountainous duty ; an obligation, 
a sadness, as of piled mountains, fell on them, 
and life became ghastly, joyless, a pilgrim's 
progress, a probation, beleaguered round with 
doleful histories of Adam's fall and curse, behind 


us ; with doomsdays and purgatorial and penal 
fires before us ; and the heart of the seer and the 
heart of the listener sank in them. 

It must be conceded that these are half-views 
of half-men. The world still wants its poet- 
priest, a reconciler, who shall not trifle with Shak- 
speare the player, nor shall grope in graves with 
Swedenborg the mourner ; but who shall see, 
speak, and act, with equal inspiration. For know- 
ledge will brighten the sunshine ; right is more 
beautiful than private affection ; and love is com- 
patible with universal wisdom. 






Among the eminent persons of the nineteenth 
century, Bonaparte is far the best known, and the 
most powerful ; and owes his predominance to 
the fidelity with which he expresses the tone of 
thought and belief, the aims of the masses of 
active and cultivated men. It is Swedenborg's 
theory, that every organ is made up of homo- 
geneous particles j or, as it is sometimes expressed, 
every whole is made of similars ; that is, the 
lungs are composed of infinitely small lungs; 
the liver, of infinitely small livers ; the kidney, 
of little kidneys, &c. Following this analogy, 
if any man is found to carry with him the power 
and affections of vast numbers, if Napoleon is 
France, if Napoleon is Europe, it is because the 
people whom he sways are little Napoleons. 

In our society, there is a standing antagonism 
between the conservative and the democratic 


classes ; between those who have made their 
fortunes, and the young and the poor who have 
fortunes to make ; between the interests of dead 
labor, — that is, the labor of hands long ago still in 
the grave, which labor is now entombed in money 
stocks, or in land and buildings owned by idle 
capitalists, — and the interests of living labor, 
which seeks to possess itself of land, and build- 
ings, and money stocks. The first class is timid, 
selfish, illiberal, hating innovation, and contin- 
ually losing numbers by death. The second class 
is selfish also, encroaching, bold, self-relying, 
always outnumbering the other, and recruiting its 
numbers every hour by births. It desires to keep 
open every avenue to the competition of all, and 
to multiply avenues; — the class of business men 
in America, in England, in France, and through- 
out Europe ; the class of industry and skill. Na- 
poleon is its representative. The instinct of 
active, brave, able men, throughout the middle 
class every where, has pointed out Napoleon as 
the incarnate Democrat. He had their virtues 
and their vices; above all, he had their spirit 
or aim. That tendency is material, pointing at 
a sensual success, and employing the richest and 
most various means to that end ; conversant with 
mechanical powers, highly intellectual, widely 
and accurately learned and skilful, but subordi- 

napoleon; or, the man of the world. 221 

nating all intellectual and spiritual forces into 
means to a material success. To be the rich 
man, is the ead. " God has granted," says the 
Koran, " to every people a prophet in its own 
tongue." Paris, and London, and New York, 
the spirit of commerce, of money, and material 
power, were also to have their prophet ; and 
Bonaparte was qualified and sent. 

Every one of the million readers of anecdotes, 
or memoirs, or lives of Napoleon, delights in the 
page, because he studies in it his own history. 
Napoleon is thoroughly modern, and, at the high- 
est point of his fortunes, has the very spirit of the 
newspapers. He is no saint, — to use his own 
word, "no capuchin," and he is no hero, in the 
high sense. The man in the street finds in him 
the qualities and powers of other men in the 
street. He finds him, like himself, by birth a 
citizen, who, by very intelligible merits, arrived 
at such a commanding position, that he could in^ 
dulge all those tastes which the common man 
possesses, but is obliged to conceal and deny : 
good society, good books, fast travelling, dress, 
dinners, servants without number, personal weight, 
the execution of his ideas, the standing in the 
attitude of a benefactor to all persons about 
him, the refined enjoyments of pictures, statues, 
music, palaces, and conventional honors, — pre* 



cisely what is agreeable to the heart of every 
ma]] in the nineteenth century, — this powerful 
man possessed. 

It is true that a man of Napoleon's truth of 
adaptation to the mind of the masses around him, 
becomes not merely representative, but actually a 
monopolizer and usurper of other minds. Thus 
Mirabeau plagiarized every good thought, every 
gocd word, that was spoken in France. Dumont 
relates, that he sat in the gallery of the Conven- 
tion, and heard Mirabeau make a speech. It 
struck Dumont that he could fit it with a pero- 
ration, which he wrote in pencil immediately, 
and showed it to Lord Elgin, who sat by him. 
Lord Elgin approved it, and Dumont, in the 
evening, showed it to Mirabeau. Mirabeau read 
it, pronounced it admirable, and declared he would 
incorporate it into his harangue, to-morrow, to 
the Assembly. " It is impossible/' said Dumont, 
" as, unfortunately, I have shown it to Lord 
Elgin." " If ypu have shown it to Lord Elgin, 
and to fifty persons beside, I shall still speak 
it to-morrow : " and he did speak it, with 
much effect, at the next day's session. For 
Mirabeau, with his overpowering personality, felt 
that these things, which his presence inspired, 
were as much his own, as if he had said them, 
and that his adoption of them gave them their 


weight. Much more absolute and centralizing 
was the successor to Mirabeau's popularity, and 
to much more than his predominance in France. 
Indeed, a man of Napoleon's stamp almost ceases 
to have a private speech and opinion. He is so 
largely receptive, and is so placed, that he comes 
to be a bureau for all the intelligence, wit, and 
power, of the age and country. He gains the 
battle ; he makes the code ; he makes the system 
of weights and measures ; he levels the Alps ; he 
builds the road. All distinguished engineers, 
savans, statists, report to him : so, likewise, do all 
good heads in every kind : he adopts the best 
measures, sets his stamp on them, and not these 
alone, but on every happy and memorable expres- 
sion. Every sentence spoken by Napoleon, and 
every line of his writing, deserves reading, as it 
is the sense of France. 

Bonaparte was the idol of common men, 
because he had in transcendent degree the qual- 
ities and powers of common men. There is a 
certain satifaction in coming down to the lowest 
ground of politics, for we get rid of cant and 
hypocrisy. Bonaparte wrought, in common with 
that great class he represented, for power and 
wealth, — but Bonaparte, specially, without any 
scruple as to the means. All the sentiments 
which embarrass men's pursuit of these objects, 


he set aside. The sentiments were for women 
and children. Fontanes, in 1804, expressed 
Napoleon's own sense, when, in behalf of the 
Senate, he addressed him, — " Sire, the desire of 
perfection is the worst disease that ever afflicted 
the human mind." The advocates of liberty, 
and of progress, are " ideologists ; " — a word 
of contempt often in his mouth ; — " Necker is 
an ideologist : " " Lafayette is an ideologist." 

An Italian proverb, too well known, declares 
that, " if you would succeed, you must not be 
too good." It is an advantage, within certain 
limits, to have renounced the dominion of the 
sentiments of piety, gratitude, and generosity ; 
since, what was an impassable bar to us, and still 
is to others, becomes a convenient iveapon for 
our purposes ; just as the river which was a 
formidable barrier, winter transforms into the 
smoothest of roads. 

Napoleon renounced, once for all, sentiments 
and affections, and would help himself with his 
hands and his head. With him is no miracle, 
and no magic. He is a worker in brass, in iron, 
in wood, in earth, in roads, in buildings, in mon- 
ey, and in troops, and a very consistent and wise 
master-workman. He is never weak and literary, 
but acts with the solidity and the precision of 
natural agents. He has not lost his native sense 


and sympathy with things. Men give way be- 
fore such a man, as before natural events. To 
be sure, there are men enough who are immersed 
in things, as farmers, smiths, sailors, and me- 
chanics generally ; and we know how real and 
solid such men appear in the presence of scholars 
and grammarians : but these men ordinarily lack 
the power of arrangement, and are like hands 
without a head. But Bonaparte superadded to 
this mineral and animal force, insight and gene- 
ralization, so that men saw in him combined the 
natural and the intellectual power, as if the sea 
and land had taken flesh and begun to cipher. 
Therefore the land and sea seem to presuppose 
him. He came unto his own, and they received 
him. This ciphering operative knows what he 
is working with, and what is the product. He 
knew the properties of gold and iron, of wheels 
and ships, of troops and diplomatists, and required 
that each should do after its kind. 

The art of war was the game in which he 
exerted his arithmetic. It consisted, according to 
him, in having always more forces than the ene- 
my, on the point where the enemy is attacked, 
or where he attacks : and his whole talent is 
strained by endless manoeuvre and evolution, to 
march always on the enemy at an angle, and 
destroy his forces in detail. It is obvious that 


a very small force, skilfully and rapidly manoeu- 
vring, so as always to bring two men against one 
at the point of engagement, will be an over- 
match for a much larger body of men. 

The times, his constitution, and his early circum- 
stances, combined to develop this pattern demo- 
crat. He had the virtues of his class, and the 
conditions for their activity. That common sense, 
which no sooner respects any end, than it finds 
the means to effect it ; the delight in the use of 
means ; in the choice, simplification, and com- 
bining of means; the directness and thorough- 
ness of his work ; the prudence with which all 
was seen, and the energy with which all was 
done, make him the natural organ and head of 
what I may almost call, from its extent, the 
modern party. 

Nature must have far the greatest share in every 
success, and so in his. Such a man was wanted, 
and such a man was born ; a man of stone and 
iron, capable of sitting on horseback sixteen or 
seventeen hours, of going many days together 
without rest or food, except by snatches, and with 
the speed and spring of a tiger in action ; a man 
not embarrassed by any scruples : compact, in- 
stant, selfish, prudent, and of a perception which 
did not suffer itself to be baulked or misled by any 
pretences of others, or any superstition, or any 


heat or haste of his own. " My hand of iron," 
he said, " was not at the extremity of my arm j 
it was immediately connected with my head." 
He respected the power of nature and fortune, 
and ascribed to it his superiority, instead of valu- 
ing himself, like inferior men, on his opinionative- 
ness, and waging war with nature. His favorite 
rhetoric lay in allusion to his star ; and he pleased 
himself, as well as the people, when he styled 
himself the "Child of Destiny." " They charge 
me," he said, " with the commission of great 
crimes : men of my stamp do not commit crimes. 
Nothing has been more simple than my elevation : 
'tis in vain to ascribe it to intrigue or crime : it 
was owing to the peculiarity of the times, and to 
my reputation of having fought well against the 
enemies of my country. I have always marched 
with the opinion of great masses, and with events. 
Of what use, then, would crimes be to me ? " 
Again he said, speaking of his son, " My son can 
not replace me ; I could not replace myself. I 
am the creature of circumstances." 

He had a directness of action never before 
combined with so much comprehension. He is a 
realist, terrific to all talkers, and confused truth- 
obscuring persons. He sees where the matter 
hinges, throws himself on the precise point of 
resistance, and slights all other considerations. 


He is strong in the right manner, namely, by in- 
sight. He never blundered into victory, but won 
his battles in his head, before he won them on 
the field. His principal means are in himself. He 
asks counsel of no other. In 1796, he writes to 
the Directory ; " I have conducted the campaign 
without consulting any one. I should have done 
no good, if I had been under the necessity of 
conforming to the notions of another person. I 
have gained some advantages over superior forces, 
and when totally destitute of every thing, because, 
in the persuasion that your confidence was reposed 
in me, my actions were as prompt as my thoughts." 
History is full, down to this day, of the im- 
becility of kings and governors. They are a 
class of persons much to be pitied, for they 
know not what they should do. The weavers 
strike for bread ; and the king and his ministers, 
not knowing what to do, meet them with 
bayonets. But Napoleon understood his business. 
Here was a man who, in each moment and 
emergency, knew what to do next. It is an 
immense comfort and refreshment to the spirits, 
not only of kings, but of citizens. Few men 
have any next ; they live from hand to mouth, 
without plan, and are ever at the end of their 
line, and, after each action, wait for an impulse 
from abroad. Napoleon had been the first man 


of the world, if his ends had been purely public. 
As he is, he inspires confidence and vigor by the 
extraordinary unity of his action. He is firm, 
sure, self-denying, self-postponing, sacrificing every 
thing to his aim, — money, troops, generals, and 
his own safety also, to his aim ; not misled, like 
common adventurers, by the splendor of his own 
means. " Incidents ought not to govern policy," 
he said, "but policy, incidents." " To be hurried 
away by every event, is to have no political 
system at all." His victories were only so many 
doors, and he never for a moment lost sight of 
his way onward, in the dazzle and uproar of the 
present circumstance. He knew what to do, and 
he flew to his mark. He would shorten a straight 
line to come at his object. Horrible anecdotes 
may, no doubt, be collected from his history, of 
the price at which he bought his successes ; but 
he must not therefore be set down as cruel ; but 
only as one who knew no impediment to his 
will ; not bloodthirsty, not cruel, — but wo to 
what thing or person stood in his way ! Not 
bloodthirsty, but not sparing of blood, — and 
pitiless. He saw only the object : the obstacle 
must give way. " Sire, General Clarke can not 
combine with General Junot, for the dreadful fire 
of the Austrian battery." — "Let him carry the 
battery." — " Sire, every regiment that approaches 


the heavy artillery is sacrificed : Sire, what 
orders ? " — " Forward, forward !" Seruzier, a 
colonel of artillery, gives, in his Military Memoirs, 
the following sketch of a scene after the battle 
of Austerlitz. — "At the moment in which the 
Russian army was making its retreat, painfully, 
but in good order, on the ice of the lake, the 
Emperor Napoleon came riding at full speed 
toward the artillery. ' You are losing time,' he 
cried ; ' fire upon those masses ; they must be 
engulfed : fire upon the ice ! ' The order 
remained unexecuted for ten minutes. In vain 
several officers and myself were placed on the 
slope of a hill to produce the effect : their balls 
and mine rolled upon the ice, without breaking it 
up. Seeing that, I tried a simple method of 
elevating light howitzers. The almost perpendic- 
ular fall of the heavy projectiles produced the 
desired effect. My method was immediately 
followed by the adjoining batteries, and in less 
than no time we buried " some * " thousands of 
Russians and Austrians under the waters of the 

In the plenitude of his resources, every obsta- 
cle seemed to vanish. " There shall be no Alps," 

* As I quote at second hand, and cannot procure Seruzier, I 
dare not adopt the high figure I find. 

napoleon; or, the man of the world. 231 

he said ; and he built his perfect roads, climbing 
by graded galleries their steepest precipices, until 
Italy was as open to Paris as any town in France. 
He laid his bones to, and wrought for his crown. 
Having decided what was to be done, he did that 
with might and main. He put out all his strength. 
He risked every thing, and spared nothing, neither 
ammunition, nor money, nor troops, nor generals, 
nor himself. 

We like to see every thing do its office after its 
kind, whether it be a milch-cow or a rattle-snake ; 
and, if fighting be the best mode of adjusting 
national differences, (as large majorities of men 
seem to agree,) certainly Bonaparte was right in 
making it thorough. " The grand principle of 
war," he said, " was, that an army ought always 
to be ready, by day and by night, and at all hours, 
to make all the resistance it is capable of making." 
He never economized his ammunition, but, on a 
hostile position, rained a torrent of iron, — shells, 
balls, grape-shot, — to annihilate all defence. On 
any point of resistance, he concentrated squadron 
on squadron in overwhelming numbers, until it 
was swept out of existence. To a regiment of 
horse-chasseurs at Lobenstein, two days before 
the battle of Jena, Napoleon said, " My lads, you 
must not fear death ; when soldiers brave death, 
they drive him into the enemy's ranks." In the 


fury of assault, he no more spared himself. He 
went to the edge of his possibility. It is plain 
that in Italy he did what he could, and all that 
he could. He came, several times, within an 
inch of ruin ; and his own person was all but 
lost. He was flung into the marsh at Areola. 
The Austrians were between him and his troops, 
in the melee, and he was brought off with despe- 
rate efforts. At Lonato, and at other places, he 
was on the point of being taken prisoner. He 
fought sixty battles. He had never enough. 
Each victory was a new weapon. " My power 
would fall, were I not to support it by new 
achievments. Conquest has made me what I am, 
and conquest must maintain me." He felt, with 
every wise man, that as much life is needed for 
conservation, as for creation. We are always in 
peril, always in a bad plight, just on the edge of 
destruction, and only to be saved by invention 
and courage. 

This vigor was guarded and tempered by the 
coldest prudence and punctuality. A thunderbolt 
in the attack, he was found invulnerable in his 
intrenchments. His very attack was never the 
inspiration of courage, but the result of calcula- 
tion. His idea of the best defence consists in 
being still the attacking party. u My ambition," 
he says, "was great, but was of a cold na- 


ture." In one of his conversations with Las 
Casas, he remarked, " As to moral courage, I 
have rarely met with the two-o'clock-in-the- 
morning kind : I mean unprepared courage, that 
which is necessary on an unexpected occasion ; 
and which, in spite of the most unforeseen events, 
leaves full freedom of judgment and decision : " 
and he did not hesitate to declare that he was 
himself eminently endowed with this " two- 
o'clock-in-the-morning courage, and that he had 
met with few persons equal to himself in this 

Every thing depended on the nicety of his com- 
binations, and the stars were not more punctual 
than his arithmetic. His personal attention de- 
scended to the smallest particulars. "At Monte- 
bello, I ordered Kellermann to attack with eight 
hundred horse, and with these he separated the 
six thousand Hungarian grenadiers, before the 
very eyes of the Austrian cavalry. This cavalry 
was half a league off, and required a quarter of 
an hour to arrive on the field of action ; and I 
have observed, that it is always these quarters of 
an hour that decide the fate of a battle." " Be- 
fore he fought a battle, Bonaparte thought little 
about what he should do in case of success, but a 
great deal about what he should do in case of a 
reverse of fortune." The same prudence and 


good sense mark all his behavior. His instruc- 
tions to his secretary at the Tuilleries are worth 
remembering. " During the night, enter my 
chamber as seldom as possible. Do not awake 
me when you have any good news to communi- 
cate ; with that there is no hurry. But when you 
bring bad news, rouse me instantly, for then there 
is not a moment to be lost." It was a whimsical 
economy of the same kind which dictated his 
practice, when general in Italy, in regard to his 
burdensome correspondence. He directed Bour- 
rienne to leave all letters unopened for three 
weeks, and then observed with satisfaction how 
large a part of the correspondence had thus dis- 
posed of itself, and no longer required an answer. 
His achievement of business was immense, and 
enlarges the known powers of man. There have 
been many working kings, from Ulysses to Wil- 
liam of Orange, but none who accomplished a 
tithe of this man's performance. 

To these gifts of nature, Napoleon added the 
advantage of having been born to a private and 
humble fortune. In his later days, he had the 
weakness of wishing to add to his crowns and 
badges the prescription of aristocracy : but he 
knew his debt to his austere education, and made 
no secret of his contempt for the born kings, and 
for " the hereditary asses," as he coarsely styled 


the Bourbons. He said that, " in their exile, they 
had learned nothing, and forgot nothing." Bon- 
aparte had passed through all the degrees of mili- 
tary service, but also was citizen before he was 
emperor, and so has the key to citizenship. His 
remarks and estimates discover the information 
and justness of measurement of the middle class. 
Those who had to deal with him, found that he 
was not to be imposed upon, but could cipher as 
well as another man. This appears in all parts 
of his Memoirs, dictated at St. Helena. When 
the expenses of the empress, of his household, of 
his palaces, had accumulated great debts, Napoleon 
examined the bills of the creditors himself, de- 
tected overcharges and errors, and reduced the 
claims by considerable sums. 

His grand weapon, namely, the millions whom 
he directed, he owed to the representative char- 
acter which clothed him. He interests us as he 
stands for France and for, Europe ; and he exists 
as captain and king, only as far as the Revolution, 
or the interest of the industrious masses, found 
an organ and a leader in him. In the social 
interests, he knew the meaning and value of 
labor, and threw himself naturally on that side. 
I like an incident mentioned by one of his biog- 
raphers at St. Helena. " When walking with 
Mrs. Balcombe, some servants, carrying heavy 


boxes, passed by on the road, and Mrs. Balcombe 
desired them, in rather an angry tone, to keep 
back. Napoleon interfered, saying, ' Respect the 
burden, Madam.' " In the time of the empire, 
he directed attention to the improvement and 
embellishment of the markets of the capital. 
"The market-place," he said, "is the Louvre of 
the common people." The principal works that 
have survived him are his magnificent roads. 
He filled the troops with his spirit, and a sort 
of freedom and companionship grew up between 
him and them, which the forms of his court 
never permitted between the officers and himself. 
They performed, under his eye, that which no 
others could do. The best document of his 
relation to his troops is the order of the day 
on the morning of the battle of Austerlitz, in 
which Napoleon promises the troops that he will 
keep his person out of reach of fire. This de- 
claration, which is the reverse of that ordinarily 
made by generals and sovereigns on the eve of a 
battle, sufficiently explains the devotion of the 
army to their leader. 

But though there is in particulars this identity 
between Napoleon and the mass of the people, 
his real strength lay in their conviction that he 
was their representative in his genius and aims, 
not only when he courted, but when he con- 


trolled and even when he decimated them by his 
conscriptions. He knew, as well as any Jacobin 
in France, how to philosophize on liberty and 
equality ; and, when allusion was made to the 
precious blood of centuries, which was spilled 
by the killing of the Due d'Enghien, he sug- 
gested, "Neither is my blood ditch-water." The 
people felt that no longer the throne was occu- 
pied, and the land sucked of its nourishment, 
by a small class of legitimates, secluded from all 
community with the children of the soil, and 
holding the ideas and superstitions of a long- 
forgotten state of society. Instead of that vam- 
pyre, a man of themselves held, in the Tuilleries, 
knowledge and ideas like their own, opening, of 
course, to them and their children, all places of 
power and trust. The day of sleepy, selfish 
policy, ever narrowing the means and opportuni- 
ties of young men, was ended, and a day of 
expansion and demand was come. A market for 
all the powers and productions of man was 
opened ; brilliant prizes glittered in the eyes of 
youth and talent. The old, iron-bound, feudal 
Prance was changed into a young Ohio or New 
York ; and those who smarted under the imme- 
diate rigors of the new monarch, pardoned them, 
as the necessary severities of the military system 
which had driven out the oppressor. And even 


when the majority of the people had begun to 
ask, whether they had really gained any thing 
under the exhausting levies of men and money 
of the new master, — the whole talent of the 
country, in every rank and kindred, took his 
part, and defended him as its natural patron. 
In 1814, when advised to rely on the higher 
classes, Napoleon said to those around him, 
" Gentlemen, in the situation in which I 
stand, my only nobility is the rabble of the 

Napoleon met this natural expectation. The 
necessity of his position required a hospitality to 
every sort of talent, and its appointment to trusts j 
and his feeling went along with this policy. 
Like every superior person, he undoubtedly felt 
a desire for men and compeers, and a wish to 
measure his power with other masters, and an 
impatience of fools and underlings. In Italy, he 
sought for men, and found none. " Good God ! " 
he said, " how rare men are ! There are eighteen 
millions in Italy, and I have with difficulty found 
two, — Dandolo and Melzi." In later years, with 
larger experience, his respect for mankind was 
not increased. In a moment of bitterness, he 
said, to one of his oldest friends, " Men deserve 
the contempt with which they inspire me. I 
have only to put some gold lace on the coat of 


my virtuous republicans, and they immediately 
become just what I wish them." This impatience 
at levity was, however, an oblique tribute of 
respect to those able persons who commanded his 
regard, not only when he found them friends and 
coadjutors, but also when they resisted his will. 
He could not confound Fox and Pitt, Carnot, 
Lafayette, and Bernadotte, with the danglers of 
his court ; and, in spite of the detraction which 
his systematic egotism dictated toward the great 
captains who conquered with and for him, ample 
acknowledgments are made by him to Lannes, 
Duroc, Kleber, Dessaix, Massena, Murat, Ney, and 
Augereau. If he felt himself their patron, and 
the founder of their fortunes, as when he said, "I 
made my generals out of mud," he could not hide 
his satisfaction in receiving from them a second- 
ing and support commensurate with the grandeur 
of his enterprise. In the Russian campaign, he 
was so much impressed by the courage and 
resources of Marshal Ney, that he said, " I have 
two hundred millions in my coffers, and I would 
give them all for Ney." The characters which 
he has drawn of several of his marshals, are 
discriminating, and, though they did not content 
the insatiable vanity of French officers, are, no 
doubt, substantially just. And, in fact, every 
species of merit was sought and advanced under 


his government. " I know," he said, " the depth 
and draught of water of every one of my gen- 
erals." Natural power was sure to be well 
received at his court. Seventeen men, in his 
time, were raised from common soldiers to the 
rank of king, marshal, duke, or general • and the 
crosses of his Legion of Honor were given to 
personal valor, and not to family connexion. 
" When soldiers have been baptized in the fire 
of a battle-field, they have all one rank in my 

When a natural king becomes a titular king, 
every body is pleased and satisfied. The Revolu- 
tion entitled the strong populace of the Faubourg 
St. Antoine, and every horse-boy and powder- 
monkey in the army, to look on Napoleon, as 
flesh of his flesh, and the creature of his party : 
but there is something in the success of grand 
talent which enlists an universal sympathy. For, 
in the prevalence of sense and spirit over stupidity 
and malversation, all reasonable men have an 
interest ; and, as intellectual beings, we feel the 
air purified by the electric shock, when material 
force is overthrown by intellectual energies. As 
soon as we are removed out of the reach of local 
and accidental partialities, man feels that Napoleon 
fights for him ; these are honest victories ; this 
strong steam-engine does our work. Whatever 


appeals to the imagination, by transcending the 
ordinary limits of human ability, wonderfully 
encourages and liberates us. This capacious 
head, revolving and disposing sovereignly trains 
of affairs, and animating such multitudes of 
agents ; this eye, w^hich looked through Europe ; 
this prompt invention ; this inexhaustible resource ; 
— w T hat events! w^hat romantic pictures! what 
strange situations ! — when spying the Alps, by a 
sunset in the Sicilian sea ; drawing up his army 
for battle, in sight of the Pyramids, and saying 
to his troops, " From the tops of those pyramids, 
forty centuries look down on you ; " fording the 
Red Sea ; wading in the gulf of the Isthmus of 
Suez. On the shore of Plotemais, gigantic 
projects agitated him, " Had Acre fallen, I 
should have changed the face of the w^orld." 
His army, on the night of the battle of Austerlitz, 
which was the anniversary of his inauguration as 
Emperor, presented him with a bouquet of forty 
standards taken in the fight. Perhaps it is a 
little puerile, the pleasure he took in making these 
contrasts glaring ; as when he pleased himself 
with making kings wait in his antechambers, at 
Tilsit, at Paris, and at Erfurt. 

We cannot, in the universal imbecility, inde- 
cision, and indolence of men, sufficiently congrat- 
ulate ourselves on this strong and readv actor, who 


took occasion by the beard, and showed us how 
much may be accomplished by the mere force of 
such virtues as all men possess in less degrees ; 
namely, by punctuality, by personal attention, by 
courage, and thoroughness. " The Austrians," 
he said, "do not know the value of time." I 
should cite him, in his earlier years, as a model 
of prudence. His power does not consist in any 
wild or extravagant force ; in any enthusiasm, 
like Mahomet's ; or singular power of persuasion ; 
but in the exercise of common sense on each 
emergency, instead of abiding by rules and cus- 
toms. The lesson he teaches is that which 
vigor always teaches, — that there is always room 
for it. To what heaps of cowardly doubts is not 
that man's life an answer. When he appeared, it 
was the belief of all military men that there could 
be nothing new in war ; as it is the belief of men 
to-day, that nothing new can be undertaken in 
politics, or in church, or in letters, or in trade, or 
in farming, or in our social manners and customs ; 
and as it is, at all times, the belief of society that 
the world is used up. But Bonaparte knew bet- 
ter than society ; and, moreover, knew that he 
knew better. I think all men know better than 
they do ; know that the institutions we so volubly 
commend are go-carts and baubles ; but they dare 
not trust their presentiments. Bonaparte relied 


on his own sense, and did not care a bean for other 
people's. The world treated his novelties just as 
it treats every body's novelties. — made infinite ob- 
jection ; mustered all the impediments : but he 
snapped his ringer at their objections. " What 
creates great difficulty," he remarks, " in the pro- 
fession of the land-commander, is the necessity 
cf feeding so many men and animals. If he 
allows himself to be guided by the commissaries, 
he will never stir, and all his expeditions will 
fail." An example of his common sense is what 
he says of the passage of the Alps in winter, 
which, all writers, one repeating after the other, 
had described as impracticable. " The winter," 
says Napoleon, " is not the most unfavorable sea- 
son for the passage of lofty mountains. The 
snow is then firm, the iveather settled, and there 
is nothing to fear from avalanches, the real and 
only danger to be apprehended in the Alps. On 
these high mountains, there are often very fine 
days in December, of a dry cold, with extreme 
calmness in the air." Read his account, too, of 
the way in which battles are gained. " In all 
battles, a moment occurs, when the bravest troops, 
after having made the greatest efforts, feel inclined 
to run. That terror proceeds from a want of con- 
fidence in their own courage ; and it only requires 
a slight opportunity, a pretence, to restore conn- 


dence to them. The art is to give rise to the 
opportunity, and to invent the pretence. At 
Areola, I won the battle with twenty-five horse- 
men. I seized that moment of lassitude, gave 
every man a trumpet, and gained the day with 
this handful. You see that two armies are two 
bodies which meet, and endeavor to frighten each 
other : a moment of panic occurs, and that mo- 
ment must be turned to advantage. When a man 
has been present in many actions, he distinguishes 
that moment without difficulty : it is as easy as 
casting up an addition." 

This deputy of the nineteenth century added 
to his gifts a capacity for speculation on general 
topics. He delighted in running through the 
range of practical, of literary, and of abstract 
questions. His opinion is always original, and to 
the purpose. On the voyage to Egypt, he liked, 
after dinner, to fix on three or four persons to 
support a proposition, and as many to oppose it. 
He gave a subject, and the discussions turned 
on questions of religion, the different kinds of 
government, and the art of war. One day, he 
asked, whether the planets were inhabited ? On 
another, what was the age of the world ? Then 
he proposed^ to consider the probability of the des- 
truction of the globe, either by water or by fire : 
at another time, the truth or fallacy of presenti- 


merits, and the interpretation of dreams. He was 
very fond of talking of religion. In 1S06, he 
conversed with Fournier, bishop of Montpellier, 
on matters of theology. There were two points 
on which they could not agree, viz., that of hell, 
and that of salvation out of the pale of the church. 
The Emperor told Josephine, that he disputed like 
a devil on these two points, on which the bishop 
was inexorable. To the philosophers he readily 
yielded all that was proved against religion as the 
work of men and time ; but he would not hear 
of materialism. One fine night, on deck, amid a 
clatter of materialism, Bonaparte pointed to the 
stars, and said, " You may talk as long as you 
please, gentlemen, but who made all that ? " He 
delighted in the conversation of men of science, 
particularly of Monge and Berthollet ; but the 
men of letters he slighted ; " they were manufac- 
turers of phrases." Of medicine, too, he was 
fond of talking, and with those of its practition- 
ers whom he most esteemed, — with Corvisart at 
Paris, and with Antonomarchi at St. Helena. 
" Relieve me," he said to the last, " we had 
better leave off all these remedies : life is a fort- 
ress which neither you nor I know any thing 
about. Why throw obstacles in the way of its 
defence ? Its own means are superior to all the 
apparatus of your laboratories. Corvisart candidly 


agreed with me, that all your filthy mixtures are 
good for nothing. Medicine is a collection of 
uncertain prescriptions, the results of which, taken 
collectively, are more fatal than useful to man- 
kind. Water, air, and cleanliness, are the chief 
articles in my pharmacopeia." 

His memoirs, dictated to Count Montholon and 
General Gourgaud, at St. Helena, have great 
value, after all the deduction that, it seems, is to 
be made from them, on account of his known 
disingenuousness. He has the good-nature of 
strength and conscious superiority. I admire his 
simple, clear narrative of his battles; — good as 
Caesar's ; his good-natured and sufficiently re- 
spectful account of Marshal Wurmser and his 
other antagonists, and his own equality as a 
writer to. his varying subject. The most agree- 
able portion is the Campaign in Egypt. 

He had hours of thought and wisdom. In inter- 
vals of leisure, either in the camp or the palace, 
Napoleon appears as a man of genius, directing 
on abstract questions the native appetite for truth, 
and the impatience of words, he was wont to 
show in war. He could enjoy every play of 
invention, a romance, a bon mot, as well as a 
stratagem in a campaign. He delighted to fasci- 
nate Josephine and her ladies, in a dim-lighted 
apartment, by the terrors of a fiction, to which 


his voice and dramatic power lent every addi- 

I call Napoleon the agent or attorney of the 
middle class of modern society ; of the throng 
who fill the markets, shops, counting-houses, 
manufactories, ships, of the modern world, aim- 
ing to be rich. He was the agitator, the de- 
stroyer of prescription, the internal improver, the 
liberal, the radical, the inventor of means, the 
opener of doors and markets, the subverter of 
monopoly and abuse. Of course, the rich and 
aristocratic did not like him. England, the cen- 
tre of capital, and Rome and Austria, centres of 
tradition and genealogy, opposed him. The con- 
sternation of the dull and conservative classes, 
the terror of the foolish old men and old women 
of the Roman conclave, — who in their despair 
took hold of any thing, and would cling to red- 
hot iron, — the vain attempts of statists to amuse 
and deceive him, of the emperor of Austria to 
bribe him ; and the instinct of the young, ardent, 
and active men, every where, which pointed him 
out as the giant of the middle class, make his 
history bright and commanding. He had the 
virtues of the masses of his constituents : he had 
also their vices. I am sorry that the brilliant 
picture has its reverse. But that is the fatal 
quality which we discover in our pursuit of 


wealth, that it is treacherous, and is bought by 
the breaking cr weakening of the sentiments : 
and it is inevitable that we should find the same 
fact in the history of this champion, who pro- 
posed to himself simply a brilliant career, without 
any stipulation cr scruple concerning the means. 

Bonaparte was singularly destitute of generous 
sentiments. The highest-placed individual in 
the mcst cultivated age and population of the 
world, — he has net the merit of common truth 
and honesty. He is unjust to his generals ; 
egotistic, and monopolizing ; meanly stealing the 
credit of their great actions from Kellermann, 
from Eernadctte ; intriguing to involve his faith- 
ful Jimet in hopeless bankruptcy, in order to 
drive him to a distance from Paris, because the 
familiarity of his manners offends the new pride 
of his throne. He is a boundless liar. The 
official paper, his " Moniteurs," and all his bul- 
letins, are proverbs for saying what he wished to 
be believed ; and worse, — he sat, in his premature 
eld age, in his lonely island, coldly falsifying 
facts, and dates, and characters, and giving to 
history a theatrical eclat. Like all Frenchmen, 
he has a passion for stage effect. Every action 
that breathes of generosity is poisoned by this 
calculation. His star, his love of glory, his doc- 
trine of the immortality of the soul, are all 


French. " I must dazzle and astonish. If I 
were to give the liberty of the press, my power 
could not last three days." To make a great 
noise is his favorite design. « A great reputation 
is a great noise : the more there is made, the 
farther off it is heard. Laws, institutions, mon- 
uments, nations, all fall • but the noise continues, 
and resounds in after ages." His doctrine of im- 
mortality is simply fame. His theory of influence 
is not nattering. " There are two levers for moving 
men, — interest and fear. Love is a silly infatua- 
tion, depend upon it. Friendship is but a name. 
I love nobody. I do not even love my brothers : 
perhaps Joseph, a little, from habit, and because 
he is my elder ; and Duroc, I love him too ; but 
why ? — because his character pleases me : he is 
stern and resolute, and, I believe, the fellow 
never shed a tear. For my part, I know very 
well that I have no true friends. As long as I 
continue to be what I am, I may have as many 
pretended friends as I please. Leave sensibility 
to women : but men should be firm in heart and 
purpose, or they should have nothing to do with 
war and government." He was thoroughly un- 
scrupulous. He would steal, slander, assassinate, 
drown, and poison, as his interest dictated. He 
had no generosity ; but mere vulgar hatred : he 
was intensely selfish : he was perfidious : he 


cheated at cards: he was a prodigious gossip; 
and opened letters : and delighted iu his infamous 
police ; and rubbed his hands with joy when he 
had intercepted some morsel of intelligence con- 
cerning the men and women about him, boasting 
that ' ; he knew every thing ; " and interfered 
with the cutting the dresses of the women ; and 
listened after the hurrahs and the compliments 
of the street, incognito. His manners were 
coarse. He treated women with low familiarity. 
He had the habit of pulling their ears, and pinch- 
ing their cheeks, when he was in good humor, 
and of pulling the ears and whiskers of men, and 
of striking and horse-play with them, to his last 
days. It does not appear that he listened at key- 
holes, or, at least, that he was caught at it. In 
short, when you have penetrated through all the 
circles of power and splendor, you were net deal- 
ing with a gentleman, at last ; but with an impos- 
tor and a rogue : and he fully deserves the epithet 
of Jupiter Scapm, or a sort of Scamp Jupiter. 

In describing the two parties into which mod- 
ern society divides itself, — the democrat and the 
conservative, — I said, Bonaparte represents the 
Democrat, or the party of men of business, against 
the stationary or conservative party. 1 omitted 
then to say, what is material to the statement, 


namely, that these two parties differ only as young 
and eld. The democrat is a young conservative ; 
the conservative is an old democrat. The aristo- 
crat is the democrat ripe, and gone to seed, — be- 
cause both parties stand on the one ground cf the 
supreme value of property, which one endeavors 
to get, and the other to keep. Bonaparte may be 
said to represent the whole history of this party, 
its youth and its age ; yes, and with poetic justice, 
its fate, in his own. The counter-revolution, the 
counter-party, still waits for its organ and repre- 
sentative, in a lover and a man of truly public 
and universal aims. 

Here was an experiment, under the most favor- 
able conditions, cf the powers of intellect withe ut 
conscience. Never was such a leader so endowed, 
and so weaponed ; never leader found such aids 
and followers. And what was the result of this 
vast talent and power, of these immense armies, 
burned cities, squandered treasures, immolated 
millions of men, of this demoralized Europe? It 
came to no result. All parsed away, like the 
smoke of his artillery, and left no trace. He left 
France smaller, poorer, feebler, than he found it ; 
and the whole contest for freedom was to be begun 
again. The attempt was, in principle, suicidal. 
Frstice served him with life, and limb, and estate, 
as long as it could identify its interest with him \ 


but when men saw that after victory was another 
war; after the destruction of armies, new con- 
scriptions ; and they who had toiled so desperately 
were never nearer to the reward, — they could not 
spend what they had earned, nor repose on their 
down-beds, nor strut in their chateaux, — they 
deserted him. Men found that his absorbing 
egotism was deadly to all other men. It resem- 
bled the torpedo, which inflicts a succession of 
shocks on any one who takes hold of it, producing 
spasms which contract the muscles of the hand, so 
that the man can not open his fingers ; and the ani- 
mal inflicts new and more violent shocks, until he 
paralyzes and kills his victim. So, this exorbi- 
tant egotist narrowed, impoverished, and absorbed 
the power and existence of those who served 
him ; and the universal cry of France, and of 
Europe, in 1814, was, "enough of him;" " as- 
sez de Bonaparte." 

It was not Bonaparte's fault. He did all that 
in him lay, to live and thrive without moral prin- 
ciple. It was the nature of things, the eternal 
law of man and of the world, which baulked and 
ruined him ; and the result, in a million experi- 
ments, will be the same. Every experiment, by 
multitudes or by individuals, that has a sensual 
and selfish aim, will fail. The pacific Fourier 
will be as inefficient as the pernicious Napoleon. 


As long as our civilization is essentially one of 
property, of fences, of exclusiveness, it will be 
mocked by delusions. Our riches will leave us 
sick ; there will be bitterness in our laughter ; and 
our wine will burn our mouth. Only that good 
profits, which we can taste with all doors open, 
and which serves all men. 





I find a provision, in the constitution of the 
world, for the writer or secretary, who is to report 
the doings of the miraculous spirit of life that 
every where throbs and works. His office is a 
reception of the facts into the mind, and then a 
selection of the eminent and characteristic expe- 

Nature will be reported. All things are engaged 
in writing their history. The planet, the pebble, 
goes attended by its shadow. The rolling rock 
leaves its scratches on the mountain ; the river, its 
channel in the soil ; the animal, its bones in the 
stratum ; the fern and leaf, their modest epitaph in 
the coal. The falling drop makes its sculpture in 
the sand or the stone. Not a foot steps into the 
snow, or along the ground, but prints, in charac- 
ters more or less lasting, a map of its march. 
Every act of the man inscribes itself in the mem* 


ories of his fellows, arid in his own manners and 
face. The air is full of sounds j the sky, of tokens ; 
the ground is all memoranda and signatures ; and 
every object covered over with hints, which speak 
to the intelligent. 

In nature, this self-registration is incessant, and 
the narrative is the print of the seal. It neither 
exceeds nor comes short of the fact. But nature 
strives upward ; and, in man, the report is some- 
thing more than print of the seal. It is a new and 
finer form of the original. The record is alive, 
as that which it recorded is alive. In man, the 
memory is a kind of looking-glass, which, having 
received the images of surrounding objects, is 
touched with life, and disposes them in a new 
order. The facts which transpired do not lie in 
it inert ; but some subside, and others shine ; so 
that soon we have a new picture, composed of the 
eminent experiences. The man cooperates. He 
loves to communicate ; and that which is for him 
to say lies as a load on his heart until it is deliv- 
ered. But, besides the universal joy of conversa- 
tion, some men are born with exalted powers for 
this second creation. Men are born to write. 
The gardener saves every slip, and seed, and 
peach-stone : his vocation is to be a planter of 
plants. Not less does the writer attend his affair. 
Whatever he beholds or experiences, comes to him 


as a model, and sits for its picture. He counts 
it all nonsense that they say, that some things 
are undescribable. He believes that all that can 
be thought can be written, first or last ; and he 
would report the Holy Ghost, or attempt it. 
Nothing so broad, so subtle, or so dear, but comes 
therefore commended to his pen, — and he will 
write. In his eyes, a man is the faculty of re- 
porting, and the universe is the possibility of being 
reported. In conversation, in calamity, he finds 
new materials ; as our German poet said, " some 
god gave me the power to paint what I surfer." 
He draws his rents from rage and pain. By acting 
rashly, he buys the power of talking wisely. 
Vexations, and a tempest of passion, only fill his 
sail ; as the good Luther writes, " When I am 
angry, I can pray well, and preach well : " and, 
if we knew the genesis of fine strokes of elo- 
quence, they might recall the complaisance of 
Sultan Amurath, who struck off some Persian 
heads, that his physician, Vesalius, might see the 
spasms in the muscles of the neck. His failures 
are the preparation of his victories. A new 
thought, or a crisis of passion, apprises him that 
all that he has yet learned and written is exoteric, 
— is not the fact, but some rumor of the fact. 
What then ? Does he throw away the pen ? No ; 
he begins again to describe in the new light 


which has shined on him, — if, by some means, 
he may yet save some true word. Nature con- 
spires. Whatever can be thought can be spoken, 
and still rises for utterance, though to rude and 
stammering organs. If they cannot compass it, 
it waits and works, until, at last, it moulds them 
to its perfect will, and is articulated. 

This striving after imitative expression, which 
one meets every where, is significant of the aim 
of nature, but is mere stenography. There are 
higher degrees, and nature has more splendid 
endowments for those whom she elects to a supe- 
rior office ; for the class of scholars or writers, 
who see connection where the multitude see 
fragments, and who are impelled to exhibit 
the facts in order, and so to supply the axis on 
which the frame of things turns. Nature has 
dearly at heart the formation of the speculative 
man, or scholar. It is an end never lost sight of, 
and is prepared in the original casting of things. 
He is no permissive or accidental appearance, but 
an organic agent, one of the estates of the 
realm, provided and prepared, from of old and 
from everlasting, in the knitting and contexture 
of things. Presentiments, impulses, cheer him. 
There is a certain heat in the breast, which at- 
tends the perception of a primary truth, which is 
the shining of the spiritual sun down into the 


shaft of the mine. Every thought which dawns 
on the mind, in the moment of its emergence 
announces its own rank, — whether it is some 
whimsy, or whether it is a power. 

If he have his incitements, there is, on the 
other side, invitation and need enough of his 
gift. Society has, at all times, the same want, 
namely, of one sane man with adequate powers 
of expression to hold up each object of mono- 
mania in its right relations. The ambitious and 
mercenary bring their last new mumbo-jumbo, 
whether tariff, Texas, railroad, Romanism, mes- 
merism, or California ; and, by detaching the 
object from its relations, easily succeed in making 
it seen in a glare ; and a multitude go mad about 
it, and they are not to be reproved or cured by 
the opposite multitude, who are kept from this 
particular insanity by an equal frenzy on another 
crotchet. But let one man have the comprehen- 
sive eye that can replace this isolated prodigy in 
its right neighborhood and bearings, — the illusion 
vanishes, and the returning reason of the com- 
munity thanks the reason of the monitor. 

The scholar is the man of the ages, but he 
must also wish with other men to stand well 
with his contemporaries. But there is a certain 
ridicule, among superficial people, thrown on the 
scholars or clerisy, which is of no import, unless 


the scholar heed it. In this country, the em- 
phasis of conversation, and of public opinion, 
commends the practical man ; and the solid por- 
tion of the community is named with significant 
respect in every circle. Our people are of Bona- 
parte's opinion concerning ideologists. Ideas are 
subversive of social order and comfort, and at 
last make a fool of the possessor. It is believed, 
the ordering a cargo of goods from New York to 
Smyrna ; or, the running up and down to procure 
a company of subscribers to set a-going five or 
ten thousand spindles ; or, the negotiations of a 
caucus, and the practising on the prejudices and 
facility of country-people, to secure their votes in 
November, — is practical and commendable. 

If I were to compare action of a much higher 
strain with a life of contemplation, I should not 
venture to pronounce with much confidence in 
favor of the former. Mankind have such a deep 
stake in inward illumination, that there is much to 
be said by the hermit or monk in defence of his 
life of thought and prayer. A certain partiality, 
a headiness, and loss of balance, is the tax which 
all action mast pay. Act, if you like, — but you 
do it at your peril. Men's actions are too strong 
for them. Show me a man who has acted, and 
who has not been the victim and slave of his 
action. What they have done commits and 


enforces them to do the same again. The first 
act, which was to be an experiment, becomes a 
sacrament. The fiery reformer embodies his 
aspiration in some rite or covenant, and he and 
his friends cleave to the form, and lose the 
aspiration. The Quaker has established Quaker- 
ism, the Shaker has established his monastery 
and his dance ; and, although each prates of spirit, 
there is no spirit, but repetition, which is anti- 
spiritual. But where are his new things of 
to-day ? In actions of enthusiasm, this drawback 
appears : but in those lower activities, which 
have no higher aim than to make us more com- 
fortable and more cowardly, in actions of cun- 
ning, actions that steal and lie, actions that 
divorce the speculative from the practical faculty, 
and put a ban on reason and sentiment, there is 
nothing else but drawback and negation. The 
Hindoos write in their sacred books, "Children 
only, and not the learned, speak of the specula- 
tive and the practical faculties as two. They 
are but one, for both obtain the selfsame end, and 
the place which is gained by the followers of the 
one, is gained by the followers of the other. 
That man seeth, who seeth that the speculative 
and the practical doctrines are one.' 7 For great 
action must draw on the spiritual nature. The 
measure of action is the sentiment from which it 


proceeds. The greatest action may easily be 
one of the most private circumstance. 

This disparagement will not come from the 
leaders, but from inferior persons. The robust 
gentlemen who stand at the head of the practical 
class, share the ideas of the time, and have too 
much sympathy with the speculative class. It is 
not from men excellent in any kind, that dis- 
paragement of any other is to be looked for. 
With such, Talleyrand's question is ever the main 
one ; not, is he rich ? is he committed ? is he 
well-meaning ? has he this or that faculty ? is he 
of the movement ? is he of the establishment ? — 
but, Is he any body? does he stand for some- 
thing ? He must be good of his kind. That is 
all that Talleyrand, all that State-street, all that 
the common sense of mankind asks. Be real 
and admirable, not as we know, but as you know. 
Able men do not care in what kind a man is able, 
so only that he is able. A master likes a master, 
and does not stipulate whether it be orator, artist, 
craftsman, or king. 

Society has really no graver interest than the 
well-being of the literary class. And it is not to 
be denied that men are cordial in their recognition 
and welcome of intellectual accomplishments. 
Still the writer does not stand with us on any 
commanding ground. I think this to be his own 


fault. A pound passes for a pound. There have 
been times when he was a sacred person : he 
wrote Bibles ; the first hymns ; the codes ; the 
epics j tragic songs ; Sibylline verses ; Chaldean 
oracles ; Laconian sentences, inscribed on temple 
walls. Every word was true, and woke the na- 
tions to new life. He wrote without levity, and 
without choice. Every word was carved before 
his eyes, into the earth and the sky ; and the sun 
and stars were only letters of the same purport, 
and of no more necessity. But how can he be 
honored, when he does not honor himself; when 
he loses himself in the crowd; when he is no 
longer the lawgiver, but the sycophant, ducking 
to the giddy opinion of a reckless public ; when 
he must sustain with shameless advocacy some 
bad government, or must bark, all the year round, 
in opposition ; or write conventional criticism, or 
profligate novels ; or, at any rate, write without 
thought, and without recurrence, by day and by 
night, to the sources of inspiration ? 

Some reply to these questions may be furnished 
by looking over the list of men of literary genius 
in our age. Among these, no more instructive 
name occurs than that of Goethe, to represent the 
powers and duties of the scholar or writer. 

I described Bonaparte as a representative of the 
popular external life and aims of the nineteenth 


century. Its other half, its poet, is Goethe, a man 
quite domesticated in the century, breathing its 
air, enjoying its fruits, impossible at any earlier 
time, and taking away, by his colossal parts, the 
reproach of weakness, which, but for him, would 
lie on the intellectual works of the period. He 
appears at a time when a general culture has 
spread itself, and has smoothed down all sharp 
individual traits ; when, in the absence of heroic 
characters, a social comfort and cooperation have 
come in. There is no poet, but scores of poetic 
writers ; no Columbus, but hundreds of post- 
captains, with transit-telescope, barometer, and 
concentrated soup and pemmican ; no Demosthe- 
nes, no Chatham, but any number of clever par- 
liamentary and forensic debaters ; no prophet or 
saint, but colleges of divinity ; no learned man, 
but learned societies, a cheap press, reading-rooms, 
and book-clubs, without number. There was 
never such a miscellany of facts. The world 
extends itself like American trade. We conceive 
Greek or Roman life, — life in the middle ages, — 
to be a simple and comprehensible affair ; but 
modern life to respect a multitude of things, 
which is distracting. 

Goethe was the philosopher of this multiplicity ; 
hundred-handed, Argus-eyed, able and happy to 
cope with this rolling miscellany of facts and 


sciences, and, by his own versatility, to dispose 
of them with ease j a manly mind, unembarrassed 
by the variety of coats of convention with 
which life had got encrusted, easily able by his 
subtlety to pierce these, and to draw his strength 
from nature, with which he lived in full com- 
munion. What is strange, too, he lived in a 
small town, in a petty state, in a defeated state, 
and in a time when Germany played no such 
leading part in the world's affairs as to swell the 
bosom of her sons with any metropolitan pride, 
such as might have cheered a French, or English, 
or once, a Roman or Attic genius. Yet there is 
no trace of provincial limitation in his muse. 
He is not a debtor to his position, but was born 
with a free and controlling genius. 

The Helena, or the second part of Faust, is a 
philosophy of literature set in poetry ; the work 
of one who found himself the master of histories, 
mythologies, philosophies, sciences, and national 
literatures, in the encyclopaedical manner in which 
modern erudition, with its international inter- 
course of the whole earth's population, researches 
into Indian, Etruscan, and all Cyclopaean arts, 
geology, chemistry, astronomy ; and every one 
of these kingdoms assuming a certain aerial and 
poetic character, by reason of the multitude. 
One looks at a king with reverence ; but if one 


should chance to be at a congress of kings, the 
eye would take liberties with the peculiarities 
of each. These are not wild miraculous songs, 
but elaborate forms, to which the poet has con- 
fided the results of eighty years of observation. 
This reflective and critical wisdom makes the 
poem more truly the flower of this time. It 
dates itself. Still he is a poet, — poet of a prouder 
laurel than any contemporary, and, under this 
plague of microscopes, (for he seems to see out 
of every pore of his skin,) strikes the harp with 
a hero's strength and grace. 

The wonder of the book is its superior intelli- 
gence. In the menstruum of this man's wit, the 
past and the present ages, and their religions, 
politics, and modes of thinking, are dissolved into 
archetypes and ideas. What new mythologies 
sail through his head ! The Greeks said, that 
Alexander went as far as Chaos : Goethe went, 
only the other day, as far ; and one step farther 
he hazarded, and brought himself safe back. 

There is a heart-cheering freedom in his specu- 
lation. The immense horizon which journeys 
with us lends its majesty to trifles, and to matters 
of convenience and necessity, as to solemn and 
festal performances. He was the soul of his 
century. If that was learned, and had become, 
by population, compact organization, and drill of 


parts, one great Exploring Expedition, accumu- 
lating a glut of facts and fruits too fast for any 
hitherto-existing savans to classify, this man's 
mind had ample chambers for the distribution of 
all. He had a power to unite the detached atoms 
again by their own law. He has clothed our 
modern existence with poetry. Amid littleness 
and detail, he detected the Genius of life, the old 
cunning Proteus, nestling close beside us, and 
showed that the dulness and prose we ascribe to 
the age was only another of his masks : — 

"His very flight is presence in disguise : " 

that he had put off a gay uniform for a fatigue 
dress, and was not a wiiit less vivacious or rich 
in Liverpool or the Hague, than once in Rome 
or Antioch. He sought him in public squares 
and main streets, in boulevards and hotels ; and, 
in the solidest kingdom of routine and the senses, 
he showed the lurking dsemonic power ; that, in 
actions of routine, a thread of mythology and 
fable spins itself: and this, by tracing the pedi- 
gree of every usage and practice, every institu- 
tion, utensil, and means, home to its origin in the 
structure of man. He had an extreme impatience 
of conjecture and of rhetoric. " I have guesses 
enough of my own ; if a man write a book, let 
him set down only what he knows." He writes 


in the plainest and lowest tone, omitting a great 
deal more than he writes, and putting ever a 
thing for a word. He has explained the distinc- 
tion between the antique and the modern spirit 
and art. He has denned art, its scope and laws. 
He has said the best things about nature that 
ever were said. He treats nature as the old phi- 
losophers, as the seven wise masters did, — and, 
with whatever loss of French tabulation and 
dissection, poetry and humanity remain to us ; 
and they have some doctoral skill. Eyes are 
better, on the whole, than telescopes or micro- 
scopes. He has contributed a key to many parts 
of nature, through the rare turn for unity and 
simplicity in his mind. Thus Goethe suggested 
the leading idea of modern botany, that a leaf, or 
the eye of a leaf, is the unit of botany, and that 
every part of the plant is only a transformed leaf 
to meet a new condition ; and, by varying the 
conditions, a leaf may be converted into any 
other organ, and any other organ into a leaf. 
In like manner, in osteology, he assumed that 
one vertebra of the spine might be considered 
the unit of the skeleton : the head was only the 
uppermost vertebra transformed. " The plant 
goes from knot to knot, closing, at last, with the 
flower and the seed. So the tape- worm, the 
caterpillar, goes from knot to knot, and closes 


with the head. Man and the higher animals are 
built up through the vertebrae, the powers being 
concentrated in the head." In optics, again, he 
rejected the artificial theory of seven colors, and 
considered that every color was the mixture of 
light and darkness in new proportions. It is 
really of very little consequence what topic he 
writes upon. He sees at every pore, and has 
a certain gravitation towards truth. He will 
realize what you say. He hates to be trifled 
with, and to be made to say over again some old 
wife's fable, that has had possession of men's 
faith these thousand years. He may as well see 
if it is true as another. He sifts it. I am here, 
he would say, to be the measure and judge of 
these things. Why should I take them on trust ? 
And, therefore, what he says of religion, of 
passion, of marriage, of manners, of property, of 
paper money, of periods of belief, of omens, 
'of luck, or whatever else, refuses to be forgotten. 
Take the most remarkable example that could 
occur of this tendency to verify every term in 
popular use. The Devil had played an important 
part in mythology in all times. Goethe would 
have no word that does not cover a thing. The 
same measure will still serve : "I have never 
heard of any crime which I might not have 
committed." So he flies at the throat of this 


imp. He shall be real ; he shall be modern ; he 
shall be European ; he shall dress like a gentle- 
man, and accept the manners, and walk in the 
streets, and be well initiated in the life of Vienna, 
and of Heidelberg, in 1820, — or he shall not 
exist. Accordingly, he stripped him of mytho- 
logic gear, of horns, cloven foot, harpoon tail, 
brimstone, and blue-fire, and, instead of looking 
in books and pictures, looked for him in his own 
mind, in every shade of coldness, selfishness, and 
unbelief that, in crowds, or in solitude, darkens 
over the human thought, — and found that the 
portrait gained reality and terror by every thing 
he added, and by every thing he took away. He 
found that the essence of this hobgoblin, which 
had hovered in shadow about the habitations of 
men, ever since there were men, was pure intel- 
lect, applied, — as always there is a tendency, — 
to the service of the senses : and he flung into 
literature, in his Mephistopheles, the first organic 
figure that has been added for some ages, and 
which will remain as long as the Prometheus. 

I have no design to enter into any analysis of 
his numerous works. They consist of transla- 
tions, criticism, dramas, lyric and every other 
description of poems, literary journals, and por- 
traits of distinguished men. Yet I cannot omit 
to specify the Wilhelm Meister. 


Wilhelm Meister is a novel in every sense, the 
first of its kind, called by its admirers the only 
delineation of modern society, — as if other novels, 
those of Scott, for example, dealt with costume 
and condition, this with the spirit of life. It is 
a book over which some veil is still drawn. It 
is read by very intelligent persons with wonder 
and delight. It is preferred by some such to 
Hamlet, as a work of genius. I suppose, no book 
of this century can compare with it in its delicious 
sweetness, so new, so provoking to the mind, 
gratifying it with so many and so solid thoughts, 
just insights into life, and manners, and characters ; 
so many good hints for the conduct of life, so 
many unexpected glimpses into a higher sphere, 
and never a trace of rhetoric or dulness. A very 
provoking book to the curiosity of young men 
of genius, but a very unsatisfactory one. Lovers 
of light reading, those who look in it for the 
entertainment they find in a romance, are disap- 
pointed. On the other hand, those who begin it 
with the higher hope to read in it a worthy 
history of genius, and the just award of the 
laurel to its toils and denials, have also reason to 
complain. We had an English romance here, not 
long ago. professing to embody the hope of a 
new age, and to unfold the political hope of the 
party called l Young England,' in which the only 


reward of virtue is a seat in parliament, and a peer- 
age. Goethe's romance has a conclusion as lame 
and immoral. George Sand, in Consuelo and its 
continuation, has sketched a truer and more 
dignified picture. In the progress of the story, 
the characters of the hero and heroine expand at 
a rate that shivers the porcelain chess-table of 
aristocratic convention : they quit the society and 
habits of their rank j they lose their wealth ; they 
become the servants of great ideas, and of the 
most generous social ends ; until, at last, the hero, 
who is the centre and fountain of an association 
for the rendering of the noblest benefits to the 
human race, no longer answers to his own titled 
name : it sounds foreign and remote in his ear. 
" I am only man," he says ; " I breathe and work 
for man," and this in poverty and extreme sacrifices. 
Goethe's hero, on the contrary, has so many 
weaknesses and impurities, and keeps such bad 
company, that the sober English public, when 
the book was translated, were disgusted. And 
yet it is so crammed with wisdom, with know- 
ledge of the world, and with knowledge of laws ; 
the persons so truly and subtly drawn, and with 
such few strokes, and not a word too much, the 
book remains ever so new and unexhausted, that 
we must even let it go its way, and be willing to 
get what good from it we can, assured that it has 


only begun its office, and has millions of readers 
yet to serve. 

The argument is the passage of a democrat to 
the aristocracy, using both words in their best 
sense. And this passage is not made in any 
mean or creeping way, but through the hall door. 
Nature and character assist, and the rank is made 
real by sense and probity in the nobles. No gen- 
erous youth can escape this charm of reality in 
the book, so that it is highly stimulating to intel- 
lect and courage. 

The ardent and holy Novalis characterized the 
book as " thoroughly modern and prosaic ; the 
romantic is completely levelled in it ; so is the 
poetry of nature ; the wonderful. The book 
treats only of the ordinary affairs of men : it is a 
poeticized civic and domestic story. The wonder- 
ful in it is expressly treated as fiction and enthu- 
siastic dreaming:" — and yet, what is also 
characteristic, Novalis soon returned to this book, 
and it remained his favorite reading to the end 
of his life. 

What distinguishes Goethe for French and 
English readers, is a property which he shares 
with his nation, — a habitual reference to interior 
truth. In England and in America, there is a 
respect for talent ; and, if it is exerted in support 
of any ascertained or intelligible interest or party, 


or in regular opposition to any, the public is satis- 
fied. In France, there is even a greater delight 
in intellectual brilliancy, for its own sake. And, 
in all these countries, men of talent write from 
talent. It is enough if the understanding is oc- 
cupied, the taste propitiated, — so many columns, 
so many hours, filled in a lively and creditable 
way. The German intellect wants the French 
sprightliness, the fine practical understanding of 
the English, and the American adventure ; but it 
has a certain probity, which never rests in a su- 
perficial performance, but asks steadily, To what 
end ? A German public asks for a controlling 
sincerity. Here is activity of thought j but what 
is it for ? What does the man mean ? Whence, 
whence all these thoughts ? 

Talent alone can not make a writer. There 
must be a man behind the book ; a personality 
which, by birth and quality, is pledged to the 
doctrines there set forth, and which exists to see 
and state things so, and not otherwise ; holding 
things because they are things. If he can not 
rightly express himself to-day, the same things 
subsist, and will open themselves to-morrow. 
There lies the burden on his mind, — the burden 
of truth to be declared, — more or less understood ; 
and it constitutes his business and calling in the 
world, to see those facts through, and to make 


them known. What signifies that he trips and 
stammers ; that his voice is harsh or hissing ; that 
his method or his tropes are inadequate ? That 
message will find method and imagery, articulation 
and melody. Though he were dumb y it would 
speak. If not, — if there be no such God's word in 
the man, — what care we how adroit, how fluent, 
how brilliant he is ? 

It makes a great difference to the force of any 
sentence, whether there be a man behind it, or no. 
In the learned journal, in the influential newspa- 
per, I discern no form ; only some irresponsible 
shadow ; oftener some monied corporation, or some 
dangler, who hopes, in the mask and robes of his 
paragraph, to pass for somebody. But, through 
every clause and part of speech of a right book, 
I meet the eyes of the most determined of men : 
his force and terror inundate every word : the 
commas and dashes are alive ; so that the writing 
is athletic and nimble, — can go far and live long. 

In England and America, one may be an adept 
in the writing of a Greek or Latin poet, without 
any poetic taste or fire. That a man has spent 
years on Plato and Proclus, does not afford a pre- 
sumption that he holds heroic opinions, or under- 
values the fashions of his town. But the German 
nation have the most ridiculous good faith on these 
subjects : the student, out of the lecture-room, still 


broods on the lessons ; and the professor can not 
divest himself of the fancy, that the truths of 
philosophy have some application to Berlin and 
Munich. This earnestness enables them to out- 
see men of much more talent. Hence, almost all 
the valuable distinctions which are current in 
higher conversation, have been derived to us from 
Germany. But, whilst men distinguished for wit 
and learning, in England and France, adopt their 
study and their side with a certain levity, and 
are not understood to be very deeply engaged, from 
grounds of character, to the topic or the part they 
espouse, — Goethe, the head and body of the Ger- 
man nation, does not speak from talent, but the 
truth shines through : he is very wise, though his 
talent often veils his wisdom. However excellent 
his sentence is, he has somewhat better in view. 
It awakens my curiosity. He has the formidable 
independence which converse with truth gives : 
hear you, or forbear, his fact abides ,* and your 
interest in the writer is not confined to his story, 
and he dismissed from memory, when he has 
performed his task creditably, as a baker when 
he has left his loaf ; but his work is the least part 
of him. The old Eternal Genius who built the 
world has confided himself more to this man than 
to any other. I dare not say that Goethe ascend- 
ed to the highest grounds from which genius has 


spoken. He has not worshipped the highest 
unity; he is incapable of a self-surrender to the 
moral sentiment. There are nobler strains in poe- 
try than any he has sounded. There are writers 
poorer in talent, whose tone is purer, and more 
touches the heart. Goethe can never be dear to 
men. His is not even the devotion to pure truth : 
but to truth for the sake of culture. He has no 
aims less large than the conquest of universal na- 
ture, of universal truth, to be his portion : a man 
not to be bribed, nor deceived, nor overawed ; of 
a stoical self-command and self-denial, and having 
one test for all men, — What can you teach me ? 
All possessions are valued by him for that only ; 
rank, privileges, health, time, being itself. 

He is the type of culture, the amateur of all 
arts, and sciences, and events ; artistic, but not 
artist ; spiritual, but not spiritualist. There is 
nothing he had not right to know : there is no 
weapon in the armory of universal genius he did 
not take into his hand, but with peremptory heed 
that he should not be for a moment prejudiced 
by his instruments. He lays a ray of light under 
every fact, and between himself and his dearest 
property. From him nothing was hid, nothing 
withholden. The lurking daemons sat to him, 
and the saint who saw the daemons ; and the 
metaphysical elements took form. " Piety itself is 


no aim, but only a means, whereby, through 
purest inward peace, we may attain to highest 
culture." And his penetration of every secret of 
the fine arts will make Goethe still more statu- 
esque. His affections help him, like women em- 
ployed by Cicero to worm out the secret of 
conspirators. Enmities he has none. Enemy 
of him you may be, — if so you shall teach him 
aught which your good-will can not, — were it 
only what experience will accrue from your ruin. 
Enemy and welcome, but enemy on high terms. 
He can not hate any body ; his time is worth too 
much. Temperamental antagonisms may be 
suffered, but like feuds of emperors, who fight 
dignifiedly across kingdoms. 

His autobiography, under the title of " Poetry 
and Truth out of my Life," is the expression of 
the idea, — now familiar to the world through the 
German mind, but a novelty to England, Old and 
New, when that book appeared, — that a man exists 
for culture ; not for what he can accomplish, but 
for what can be accomplished in him. The 
reaction of things on the man is the only note- 
worthy result. An intellectual man can see him- 
self as a third person ; therefore his faults and 
delusions interest him equally with his successes. 
Though he wishes to prosper in affairs, he wishes 
more to know the history and destiny of man ; 


whilst the clouds of egotists drifting about him 
are only interested in a low success. 

This idea reigns in the Dichtung und Wahr- 
heit, and directs the selection of the incidents ; 
and nowise the external importance of events, 
the rank of the personages, or the bulk of incomes. 
Of course, the book affords slender materials for 
what would be reckoned w r ith us a " Life of 
Goethe;" — few dates; no correspondence; no 
details of offices or employments ; no light on 
his marriage ; and, a period of ten years, that 
should be the most active in his life, after his 
settlement at Weimar, is sunk in silence. Mean- 
time, certain love-affairs, that came to nothing, as 
people say, have the strangest importance : he 
crowds us with details : — certain whimsical opin- 
ions, cosmogonies, and religions of his own in- 
vention, and, especially his relations to remarkable 
minds, and to critical epochs of thought : — these he 
magnifies. His " Daily and Yearly Journal," his 
" Italian Travels," his " Campaign in France," 
and the historical part of his " Theory of Colors," 
have the same interest. In the last, he rapidly 
notices Kepler, Roger Bacon, Galileo, Newton, 
Voltaire, &c. ; and the charm of this portion of 
the book consists in the simplest statement of the 
relation betwixt these grandees of European 
scientific history and himself; the mere drawing 


of the lines from Goethe to Kepler, from Goethe 
to Bacon, from Goethe to Newton. The draw- 
ing of the line is for the time and person, a solu- 
tion of the formidable problem, and gives pleasure 
when Iphigenia and Faust do not, without any- 
cost of invention comparable to that of Iphige- 
nia and Faust. 

This lawgiver of art is not an artist. Was it 
that he knew too much, that his sight was micro- 
scopic, and interfered with the just perspective, 
the seeing of the whole ? He is fragmentary ; 
a writer of occasional poems, and of an encyclo- 
paedia of sentences. When he sits down to 
write a drama or a tale, he collects and sorts his 
observations from a hundred sides, and combines 
them into the body as fitly as he can. A great 
deal refuses to incorporate : this he adds loosely, 
as letters of the parties, leaves from their journals, 
or the like. A great deal still is left that will not 
find any place. This the bookbinder alone can 
give any cohesion to : and hence, notwithstand- 
ing the looseness of many of his works, we 
have volumes of detached paragraphs, aphorisms, 
xenien, &c. 

I suppose the worldly tone of his tales grew 
out of the calculations of self-culture. It was 
the infirmity of an admirable scholar, who loved 
the world out of gratitude ; who knew where 


libraries, galleries, architecture, laboratories, sa- 
vans, and leisure, were to be had, and who did 
not quite trust the compensations of poverty and 
nakedness. Socrates loved Athens ; Montaigne, 
Paris ; and Madame de Stael said, she was only 
vulnerable on that side; (namely, of Paris.) It 
has its favorable aspect. All the geniuses are 
usually so ill-assorted and sickly, that one is evei 
wishing them somewhere else. We seldom see 
any body who is not uneasy or afraid to live. 
There is a slight blush of shame on the cheek 
of good men and aspiring men, and a spice of 
caricature. But this man was entirely at home 
and happy in his century and the world. None 
was so fit to live, or more heartily enjoyed the 
game. In this aim of culture, which is the genius 
of his works, is their power. The idea of abso- 
lute, eternal truth, without reference to my own 
enlargement by it, is higher. The surrender to 
the torrent of poetic inspiration is higher ; but, 
compared with any motives on which books are 
written in England and America, this is very 
truth, and has the power to inspire which belongs 
to truth. Thus has he brought back to a book 
some of its ancient might and dignity. 

Goethe, coming into an over-civilized time and 
country, when original talent was oppressed under 
the load of books and mechanical auxiliaries, and 


the distracting variety of claims, taught men how- 
to dispose of this mountainous miscellany, and 
make it subservient. I join Napoleon with him, 
as being both representatives of the impatience 
and reaction of nature against the morgue of 
conventions, — two stern realists, who, with their 
scholars, have severally set the axe at the root 
of the tree of cant and seeming, for this time, 
and for all time. This cheerful laborer, with no 
external popularity or provocation, drawing his 
motive and his plan from his own breast, tasked 
himself with stints for a giant, and, without 
relaxation or rest, except by alternating his pur- 
suits, worked on for eighty years with the steadi- 
ness of his first zeal. 

It is the last lesson of modern science, that the 
highest simplicity of structure is produced, not 
by few elements, but by the highest complexity. 
Man is the most composite of all creatures : the 
wheel-insect, volvox globator, is at the other ex- 
treme. We shall learn to draw rents and reve- 
nues from the immense patrimony of the old and 
the recent ages. Goethe teaches courage, and the 
equivalence of all times ; that the disadvantages 
of any epoch exist only to the faint-hearted, 
Genius hovers with his sunshine and music close 
by the darkest and deafest eras, No mortgage, 
no attainder, w T ill hold on men or hours, The 


world is young : the former great men call to us 
affectionately. We too must write Bibles, to unite 
again the heavens and the earthly world. The 
secret of genius is to suffer no fiction to exist for 
us ; to realize all that we know ; in the high 
refinement of modern life, in arts, in sciences, in 
books, in men, to exact good faith, reality, and 
a purpose ; and first, last, midst, and without end, 
to honor every truth by use. 


Date Due 

FE 1*54